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Study from SCHEV highlights resources, gaps in college-access support across Virginia

by Greg Weatherford | Oct 11, 2017
Contact: Greg Weatherford
gregoryweatherford@schev.edu, (804) 786-2323 (o), (804)317-3879 (m)

October 11, 2017
For immediate release

RICHMOND
Of the 11.5 million jobs added since the great recession, 99% have gone to workers with at least some college education, according to the Georgetown Center on Education and Workforce; almost three-quarters have gone to those with a bachelor’s degree or more. 

While overall about half of working-age Virginians have degrees, many areas of the state have a much lower rate of educational attainment — 42% of Virginia’s 133 localities have an attainment rate below 30%. 

A recent study commissioned by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and Virginia529 provides an overview of postsecondary access needs and resources for students by school division and identifies areas in which resources are limited or lacking. 

The study, “The Landscape of Postsecondary Access Resources in Virginia,” prepared by Metropolitan Educational Research Consortium at Virginia Commonwealth University, also makes recommendations to improve postsecondary access services, defined as efforts to increase access to all types of training or education after high school. 

“This report shows why Governor McAuliffe’s focus on educational access is so important,” said Virginia Secretary of Education Dietra Trent. “All students deserve the skills and training they need to be successful in the new Virginia economy.”

The Virginia Plan for Higher Education, the state’s strategic plan, directs the Commonwealth to increase the percentage of Virginians with a degree or workforce credential, with the goal of being the best-educated state in the nation by 2030. 

“To expand opportunity across the Commonwealth, we are working to make sure education after high school is a real option for every Virginian,” said Peter Blake, director of SCHEV.  

The study classified school divisions by level of need of postsecondary access resources. Forty of the state’s 132 divisions – 31% — were placed into categories designated as high- or recognized-need, with fewer students going to college and more students in lower-income families than other divisions in the state. 

“As we prepare the pathways to success for every Virginia student, it is important to understand what resources are available to them,” said Steven Staples, Virginia’s superintendent of public instruction

“Many organizations and college advisers work across Virginia to help our students succeed after high school,” said Barry Simmons, president of the Virginia College Access Network and a retired assistant provost at Virginia Tech. “This study can help us understand where more help may be needed.”

The study is available at schev.edu/AccessStudy.

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The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia is the state’s coordinating agency for higher education. With The Virginia Plan for Higher Education, SCHEV is dedicated to making Virginia the best-educated state by 2030. For more on The Virginia Plan: schev.edu/TheVirginiaPlan
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