A recent article in the Austin American Statesman outlines some of the challenges we face to improve Education in our community. Education leaders try to address these challenges in the Blueprint for Educational Change, the culmination of a two-year effort to improve education in Central Texas.
Drafters of the blueprint, meeting today to release copies of the report, said they want to see:
95 percent of Central Texas students graduate from high school. Only two-thirds of ninth-graders now go on to graduate in four years.
A 20 percentage-point improvement in eighth-grade passing rates on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills among students from all ethnic groups. Black and Hispanic eighth-graders sometimes lag 30 to 40 percentage points behind whites, 80 percent of whom pass all sections of the state achievement test.
70 percent of children enter kindergarten “school ready” by 2015. One study shows that 40 percent of children in Central Texas now enter kindergarten with up to an 18-month delay in skills.
The coalition of business and education leaders who worked on the blueprint said they also want 20,010 more students enrolled in college by 2010 and want the number of students who are “college and career” ready to double by 2015. Now, only about 43 percent of area high school graduates can take college-level courses without remedial work.
Susan Dawson, executive director of the E3 Alliance, the group that led the blueprint effort, said the intent is “to look at where other countries and cities are outpacing us and to find ways to fix that.” Dawson said meeting the goals set out in the blueprint is crucial to Central Texas’ economy. She said the group estimates that dropouts cost the area $425 million annually in potential earnings, lost tax revenue and extra social services costs.
“Think of that as almost five Long Centers you could buy every year,” she said, referring to Austin’s large new performing arts center.
United Way Capital Area is very excited about the Blueprint for Change and the impact this could have on the community. We believe Education, Health and Financial Stability are our keys to ensure that everyone reaches their fullest potential. The data and the research that E3 is providing the community is essential for measuring our progress and moving forward. Our hope is that the information will help us to come together to change community conditions.
United Way Capital Area’s Success by Six and other key regional organizations are working with E3 to define and adopt school readiness standards for the region to work towards goal one, Children Enter Kindergarten School Ready. Success by Six will lead the Change Champion Team for Goal 1-Children Enter Kindergarten School Ready. Several local school districts, educational researchers, community-based organizations and Region XIII have already come together with Success by 6 to launch the effort to develop and establish a school readiness standard for Central Texas.
Also, in our work in the area of “Education – Youth,” we’ve aligned with E3s goal two, to eliminate Achievement Gaps for all students while improving overall performance, and will be working with the broader community to make these necessary changes.
What are your thoughts about the challenges we face to improve Education in our community?
Do you think we are moving forward in the right direction?