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Southern States Make Progress on Some Education Goals

Gathered in West Virginia for their annual confab, officials with the Southern Regional Education Board are releasing a series of reports today on the progress of their member states on four key goals: ensuring readiness for learning, raising achievement and closing gaps, preparing all students for college and careers, and improving college completion rates.

All 16 member states—from Texas to Delaware—get an in-depth review on those metrics and the reports show mixed results. (Gratuitious aside: One of my favorite colleagues here at EdWeek always jokes that we should rename the paper "Mixed Results" because we write about so many reports with those sorts of conclusions).

Overall, the states show favorable progress on indicators such as improving access to prekindergarten and narrowing achievement gaps, but all of them could gain from crafting policies to make sure kids can actually get into college, and perhaps even more vexing, earn a degree, according to the report.

It's interesting to look at a state like Florida—which is generally viewed as one of the most aggressive states when it comes to K-12 reforms—and see that its high school graduates enroll in college at a rate of 54 percent, trailing the national average of 63 percent and the SREB-member states' average of 62 percent. When it comes to college completion, though, Florida does better than the nation and the southern region, with a 59 percent six-year graduation rate for first-time freshmen who enrolled in 2002.

These reports are worthy of cover-to-cover reads—they are jam-packed with great data and descriptions of the states—and are based on SREB's 2002 adoption of the Challenge to Lead agenda. Also, be sure to take a look at this other new report from SREB and the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education that outlines policies that states should adopt to increase college readiness.

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