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Contact: Kirsten Nelson
(804) 225-2627
For Immediate Release

December 3, 2008

Virginia Higher Education Remains Sound
According to Measuring Up 2008 State Report Card

RICHMONDThe Commonwealth of Virginia received strong marks on the higher education report card released today by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, though the report reveals there is room for improvement.  The fifth in a series of biennial report cards released by the center, Measuring Up 2008 evaluates states in six overall performance categories, reporting letter grades based on several indicators in each category.

The 2008 report card ranks Virginia as a top performing state on the economic benefits measure, rating it as one of only five states to earn an A in the Benefits category. Virginia has consistently performed well on this indicator, which measures the proportion of residents who have earned a bachelor’s degree, substantially strengthening the state’s economy. The report also reveals that Virginia residents contribute substantially to the civic good as measured by charitable giving and volunteerism.

Virginia once again scored well in preparing students to succeed in postsecondary education and training, earning a B+ in the Preparation category. The report card states that Virginia is among the top performers in the proportions of 11th and 12th graders scoring well on Advanced Placement tests, though it cites concerns about performance gaps based on ethnicity and income.

Virginia received a B in Completion, a category that measures whether students earn certificates or degrees in a timely manner. The report cites the Commonwealth’s consistently high percentage of freshmen at four-year institutions (80%) and first-year students at community colleges (54%) who return for a second year. In addition, the report card commends Virginia’s consistently high percentage of first-time, full-time college students (63%) who earn a bachelor’s degree within six years of enrollment.

Though the college enrollment of young adults in Virginia is above the national average, the Commonwealth has slipped slightly in its Participation grade, earning a C.  According to the report card, since the early 1990s, the chance of a Virginian enrolling in college by age 19 has increased by 20%, compared to a nationwide increase of 8%. However, the report cites concerns about the gap in college participation between Caucasian and other ethnic groups.

The Commonwealth is one of 49 states that were given a failing grade in the Affordability category, which measures whether students and families can afford to pay for higher education. Recognizing that affordability remains an issue for many Virginia families even after continued state investment in need-based financial aid, the State Council formed an ad hoc committee to examine issues related to affordability and access. Following several months of discussion and research, the ad hoc affordability committee is currently drafting a report to include concrete recommendations and specific strategies for addressing this issue in Virginia. The full report will be issued at the Council meeting in early January 2009.

In the sixth and final category, Learning, both the Commonwealth and all other states received an Incomplete because there is not sufficient data to allow meaningful comparisons. 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

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 Kirsten Nelson, Director of Government Relations and Communications, at or (804) 225-2627.
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