OUR OPINION: SREB goals advance all schools’ aspirations

By NEMS Daily Journal

Southern Regional Education Board, an advocacy and information organization headquartered in Atlanta, continued its regionwide leadership this week in a new long-range plan with goals through 2020.
SREB, which is nonpartisan, has ties to every state in the crescent stretching from Delaware and Maryland to Oklahoma and Texas. Mississippi is a charter member of the SREB.
It influence rises from the respect of its members for its goals, which are derived from the factual data about schools across the extended South.
The new plan, Challenge to Lead 2020, is an extension, revision and enhancement of a series of challenges begun in 1988.
The 2002 Challenge to Lead Goals for Education called for SREB states to raise the percentages of all groups of students graduating from high school to above the national average. Detailed in this SREB Policy on Point report, almost every SREB state increased its high school graduation rate from 1999 to 2009, and more than half outpaced the nation’s gains.
The six new goals in substantial measure parallel the ongoing goals of the Mississippi Department of Education and many individual school districts:
• All children entering school will have the knowledge and exhibit the social and developmental skills needed for success in first grade.
• Student achievement for all groups in the early grades will exceed state standards and national averages, at rates that close achievement gaps between groups.
• Student achievement for all groups in the middle grades will exceed state standards and national averages, at rates that close achievement gaps between groups.
• Eighty percent of all groups of ninth-graders will graduate from high school ready for college and career training. This likely means more than 90 percent will need to graduate from high school.
• Sixty percent of working-age adults will have a postsecondary credential: an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, or a career certificate.
• Increasing percentages of adults without high school or postsecondary credentials will pursue opportunities to earn high school alternative certificates, college degrees or career certificates.
SREB has committed to its member states that it will monitor, measure and report on student achievement outcomes, plus track statewide implementation.
For specific targets and measures under each Challenge 2020 goal, look at http://www.sreb.org/.