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Virginia Journal of Education


Virginia Pays Price
For School Dropouts

WASHINGTON, D.C.-When a student drops out of high school, the impact goes beyond the now-limited potential of the individual-it has an economic effect on the entire community. According to the Alliance for Excellent Education, an education policy and advocacy organization, Virginia has paid the price for its students who don't earn a high school diploma:

. Almost 29,000 students did not graduate from our state's high schools in 2007. The lost lifetime earnings in Virginia for that group of dropouts alone are more than $7.4 billion.

. The state could save nearly $400 million in health care costs over the lifetime of each class of dropouts if those students had earned their diplomas.

. If the heads of all of Virginia's households had graduated from high school, those households would have accumulated more than $1.8 billion in additional wealth.

. If students of color graduated from high school in Virginia at the same rate as white students, the state would have about $6.5 billion added to the economy.

. If the percentage of males that graduate from high school in the commonwealth grew just 5 percent, Virginia would see a combination of savings and revenue of about $179 million annually in reduced crime spending and increased earnings.

HS Grads Declining,
Growing More Diverse

BOULDER, CO-While the total number of high school graduates in the U.S. will decline over the next seven years, grads will become a more diverse group, according to a report by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.

According to the report, "Knocking at the College Door," there will be nearly 207,000 more Hispanic high school graduates, an increase of 54 percent during the period from 2004-05 to 2014-15. In addition, there will be 46,000 more Asian and Pacific Islander grads, up 32 percent. Smaller rises, in the single digits, are predicted for non-Hispanic blacks and American Indian/Alaska natives.

Non-Hispanic white graduates are expected to decline, dropping by 197,000, or 11 percent.

Number of Young Readers Dropping,
According to Study

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Americans, especially teens and young adults, are reading less, says a new study by the National Endowment for the Arts. The study, "To Read or Not to Read: A Question of National Consequence," found:

. Americans ages 15-24 watch almost two hours of television each day, on average, but spend only seven minutes of their leisure time reading.

. Less than one-third of 13-year-olds are daily readers, a 14 percent drop in the last 20 years. Among 17-year-olds, the percentage of nonreaders doubled during those 20 years, going from 9 percent to 19 percent.

. Nearly two-thirds of employers rank reading comprehension as "very important" for prospective employees.

. Readers are more likely than non-readers to be involved in positive civic and individual activities such as volunteering, exercising, and attending cultural or sports events.

State's Eighth Graders
Outperform Nation
on NAEP Writing Test

RICHMOND-Eighth graders in Virginia are better than most of their national peers when it comes to communicating in writing. The commonwealth's students at that level achieved an average score of 157 on the 2007 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) writing test, three points higher than the national average of 154. Only in seven states were average scores significantly higher than in Virginia.

Ninety percent of Virginia students showed at least basic writing skills on the test, while nearly a third (31 percent) met or exceeded the rigorous NAEP standard for full proficiency.

"Young people who communicate clearly and effectively stand out, especially in this era of text messaging and electronic chatter," says Billy K. Cannady, Virginia's superintendent of public instruction. "While Virginia's public schools produce some of the nation's strongest writers, we must do more to equip students with the communication skills they need to compete in the global economy of the 21st century."


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