C O M M O N W E A L T H   O F   V I R G I N I A
  State Council of Higher Education for Virginia
• N E W S   R E L E A S E •
For Immediate Release
September 7, 2006
Contact:  Elizabeth Wallace
(804) 225-2627


Virginia Higher Education Scores Well
On Measuring Up 2006 State Report Card


RICHMOND — The Commonwealth of Virginia received solid marks on the higher education report card released biennially by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. The fourth in a series of report cards released by the center, Measuring Up 2006 evaluates states in six overall performance categories, reporting letter grades based on several quantitative measures in each category.

The report card rates Virginia’s greatest strength as the very high proportion of Commonwealth residents who have earned a bachelor’s degree, giving Virginia an A in the Benefits category, stating that Virginia’s economy is substantially strengthened by having such a highly educated population. The report adds that Virginia residents contribute substantially to the public good through volunteerism and charitable giving.

Virginia also ranked well for preparing its students to succeed in postsecondary education and training, earning an A- and standing out as one of only six states to score above a B in the Preparation category. The report card sites the Commonwealth as a consistently top performer for the large proportions of 11th and 12th graders who take and score well on Advanced Placement tests, as well as the number of 8th graders who perform well on national assessments in math, science, and reading.

The Commonwealth, however, is one of 43 states that were given a failing grade in the Affordability category, which measures whether students and families can afford to pay for higher education. Although Virginia has increased its investment in need-based financial aid over the past several years, the report card indicates that this investment remains low when compared to other states. Additionally, Measuring Up 2006 finds that Virginia families must devote a large share of family income to attend public two- and four-year colleges and universities.

Virginia received a B+ in Completion, a category that addresses whether students continue on and earn certificates or degrees in a timely manner. The report cites the Commonwealth’s consistently high percentage of freshmen at four-year institutions (79%) and first-year students at community colleges (53%) who return for a second year. In addition, the report card mentions that 62% of first-time, full-time college students complete a bachelor’s degree within six years of enrolling.

Continuing to perform well in enrolling students in higher education, Virginia earned a B in Participation. According to the report card, over the past decade, the likelihood of a Virginian enrolling in college by age 19 has increased by 5%, compared to a nationwide decline of 2%. However, the report cites concerns about the gap in college participation between Caucasian and other ethnic groups, as well as a significant disparity in the number of students from high-income families that attend college as compared to students from low-income families.

In the sixth and final category, Learning, the Commonwealth received an Incomplete. Designed to measure the extent to which colleges and universities prepare students to contribute to the workforce, the Learning category listed only nine states with a score of plus. The other 41 states were giving an Incomplete due to lack of data. Additional information about the Measuring Up report card can be found on the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education’s web site at www.highereducation.org.

SCHEV is the Commonwealth’s coordinating body for Virginia’s system of higher education. The agency provides policy guidance and budget recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly, and is a resource for information on Virginia colleges and universities on higher education issues.

For more information, contact Elizabeth Wallace, Director of Government Relations and Communications, at ElizabethWallace@schev.edu or (804)225-2627.