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Virginia Journal of Education


Dropout Prevention Programs
Paying for Themselves

RICHMOND—The VEA has made increasing Virginia’s high school graduation rate one of its top priorities, and a new study by The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis underscores why: The lifetime benefits to the state for each additional high school graduate show a return of three times the cost of the investment.

The Commonwealth Institute’s study, called “A New Lesson Plan: How Increasing Graduation Rates Boosts Virginia’s Economy,” looked at six interventions proven to increase high school graduation rates: preschool education, class size reduction, increasing teacher salaries, the Virginia Teaching Scholarship Loan and similar programs, enhanced career/technical education, and the Jobs for Virginia Graduates program. The rate of return on investment was as high as 6.3-to-1 in some of the interventions and averaged three times the amount invested.

“The fact that 18.7 percent of Virginia’s students fail to complete high school on time is simply unacceptable,” says VEA President Kitty Boitnott. “We need to begin, without delay, to invest in our young people so we can keep them in school.”

“At a time when our state budget is tight, it is more important than ever to know how programs that reduce dropouts perform,” says Michael J. Cassidy, Commonwealth Institute executive director. “So often the debate over public investments in education is framed solely in terms of cost. For the first time, now we can examine investment in these areas in terms of the actual return. This study shows how these programs make the grade.”

Strides In Health
Could Cut Gaps

NEW YORK, NY—Tackling the disparities that exist for disadvantaged minority children in six key health areas could significantly reduce achievement gaps, according to a study released at an education equity conference held at Teachers College, Columbia University. The six areas: vision, asthma, teen pregnancy, physical activity, diet, and violence and aggression.

The annual asthma rate for children ages 5-14 is 45 percent higher for blacks than whites; the birth rate among Hispanic girls ages 15-17 is more than four times higher than the rate among non-Hispanic white girls of the same age; and many economically disadvantaged children are both under-diagnosed and under-treated for eye care problems.



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