Warner launches education plan

In addition to the threat of having college acceptance letters revoked, Virginia high school seniors now have further incentive to avoid the so-called "senior slump."

Gov. Mark R. Warner announced yesterday the launch of an agreement between the Commonwealth and 62 two- and four-year colleges and universities -- both public and private -- that creates a statewide standard for what credits earned in high school will successfully transfer into college degree credits.

The new initiative applies to credits earned through Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and dual enrollment programs

"Today's announcement is a great milestone for education in Virginia," Warner said in a press release. "We have come together with the presidents of Virginia's leading institutions of higher education ... to strengthen high school by providing consistency and predictability to what courses will be recognized for college degree credit."

The Commonwealth College Course Collaborative, which will affect current high school seniors, allows students to receive at least 13 college credit hours in General Biology, General Psychology and U.S. History 1 and 2, according to Virginia Secretary of State Belle S. Wheelan.

"Students can get a head start on college," Wheelan said. "Senior year will be worth even more than it is currently, and parents can save money because essentially the state is paying for a semester of college tuition."

The move was partially in response to data showing that students were graduating in 150 percent of the time it should have taken them to graduate because colleges did not always accept credit earned in high school, she said.

"It's very significant," said David Breneman, Dean of the Curry School of Education. "We have never, to my knowledge, developed a sort of pre-approved method to transfer credit."

Breneman noted that prior to the agreement, there was no assumption that all of a student's transfer credits would be counted toward his or her degree.

State officials and educators said the collaborative was designed to provide high school students with an incentive to take rigorous classes and continue to perform well academically during their senior year.

"We made sure there was additional value added to the students' senior year," Wheelan said. "It might motivate students who hadn't thought about [taking advanced classes] before."

Participating institutions include the University and 13 other public, four-year colleges and universities, 23 community colleges, the two-year Richard Bland College and 24 private institutions that are members of the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia, according to a Warner press release.

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