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Virginia Journal of Education


NewsFronts


More Virginia Students
Earning Advanced Diplomas

RICHMOND-For the fourth year in a row, the percentage of students who graduated from Virginia high schools with an Advanced Studies Diploma has increased, as the Class of 2007 earned 40,200 advanced diplomas, or 48.5 percent of seniors. Of the total number of seniors who received diplomas this year, just over half (51.2 percent) earned Advanced Studies Diplomas.

The number of advanced diplomas surpassed the number of standard diplomas, which totaled 33,754, also for the fourth consecutive year.

"Virginia has raised the bar for graduation with diploma standards that provide an even firmer foundation for success at the post-secondary level and in the workplace," says Superintendent of Public Instruction Billy K. Cannaday Jr. "Students have responded with higher levels of achievement."

To earn an Advanced Studies Diploma, students must have at least 24 standard credits by passing required courses and electives and also get nine verified credits by passing end-of-course Standards of Learning tests. The Class of 2007 is the first to have to pass SOL tests in math, history/social science and science, in addition to grade level tests in reading and writing, to earn a Standard Diploma.

Just under 95 percent of all 82,901 members of the Class of 2007 earned one of the five diplomas authorized by the Virginia Board of Education.


States Upping Investment
In Pre-Kindergarten Programs

WASHINGTON, D.C.-As momentum to support pre-kindergarten education builds, a record-breaking 36 states increased funding for pre-K programs last year, according to an annual analysis done by Pre-K Now, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group. A total of $528 million in new money was directed to pre-K education to provide 88,000 more children with access to such programs.

Other findings of the report, called "Votes Count: Legislative Action on Pre-K in Fiscal Year 2008":

. A total of $4.8 billion in state money will be directed to pre-K programs nationally in fiscal year 2008, an increase of $2 billion in only three years.

. Only one state, Florida, decreased pre-K funding.

. Iowa and Pennsylvania had the highest increases, with 241 and 135 percent, respectively.

. Ten states are still without state pre-K programs, leaving more than half a million children without access.

Virginia, through the Virginia Preschool Initiative, will increase pre-K spending in fiscal 2008 by 7 percent, from $49.6 million to $53.1 million.


Students Connecting,
Talking School Online

ALEXANDRIA, VA-In huge numbers, teenagers-and younger children-are flexing both their social and educational muscles online, says a survey for the National School Boards Association. Some conclusions from the survey's report, called "Creating & Connecting: Research and Guidelines on Online Social and Educational Networking":|

. Ninety-six percent of students with Internet access go online to network socially through chatting, text messaging, blogging and visiting sites such as Facebook and MySpace. Students also report that education is one of the most frequently discussed topics in the social networking scene.

. Almost 60 percent of students online say they talk about education topics such as college or college planning, learning outside of school, and careers, while half say they talk specifically about schoolwork.

. Students who use online networking sites spend almost as much time involved in activities there as they do watching television-about nine hours a week online versus 10 hours watching TV.

. Ninety-six percent of school districts say that at least some of their teachers make assignments that require Internet use.

. Students are using networking sites to share their creative works. Almost half (49 percent) say they have uploaded their own photos and 22 percent have uploaded video they have created.


High-Achieving Students
Less Likely to Become
Substance Abusers

ANN ARBOR, MI-Students who succeed academically and earn good grades are less likely to use alcohol, tobacco or other drugs, say researchers at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research.

In a study of 3,000 students, factors such as poor grades, suspension or expulsion accurately predicted illegal drug use in high school, and half of high school dropouts became daily smokers by age 22. Only one-fifth of students who had three or more years of college were daily smokers at the same age.

However, college students were more likely to use alcohol than their less-educated peers; but college-educated adults were less likely to become heavy drinkers by age 30 than the average adult.


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