MERCEDES, Texas, April 11, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- For nearly five years, leaders from across the Rio Grande Valley have united behind a vision – to "ensure that all Rio Grande Valley learners achieve a degree or credential that leads to a meaningful career."
Progress is being made toward that objective, thanks to the passionate commitment and enthusiastic hard work provided by RGV FOCUS, a collective-impact initiative whose credo is "leaders united to change lives."
Earlier today leaders from RGV FOCUS unveiled the 2016 Annual Report, showing that area students now match or outperform their Texas peers in eight out of 11 key indicators – from high school graduation rates, to FAFSA financial aid and AP/dual credit completion (see detailed stats below). The report, which spotlights successes along with areas needing improvement, reflects a growing shift in educational attainment for Rio Grande Valley students.
"We credit the diverse leadership from the education, community, business and philanthropic sectors who have banded together to make certain our Rio Grande Valley students find success in high school, college and the workforce," said Dr. Stella Garcia, co-chair of RGV FOCUS and Provost of Texas State Technical College-Harlingen. "While there is still much work to be done, we are very proud of the progress of our students and know it will pay off down the road."
This type of cross-county collaboration is special, considering the size of the Rio Grande Valley. The region's 1.3 million population comprises four counties, 37 school districts, four public institutions of higher education and nearly 415,000 Pre-K-12 students.
The 2016 Annual Report details how high school and college students in the region are performing compared to their peers at a baseline (metrics established by RGV FOCUS leadership in 2012). Furthermore, to provide deeper context, it compares the performance of RGV students against their Texas peers. Also showcased is RGV FOCUS' commitment to strengthen each step and align resources across the cradle-to-career educational pipeline. The 28-page report underscores four strategic priority areas – culture of attending college, college and career readiness, teaching excellence, and dropout prevention and recovery.
The Annual Report is the outcome of RGV FOCUS, a collaboration with Educate Texas, a public-private initiative of Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT).
As a result of the Leadership Team's commitment and perseverance, RGV FOCUS is making a difference.
- On four of the indicators, RGV students top their Texas peers – in the four-year high school graduation rate (90% RGV students compared to 89% Texas students), FAFSA financial aid completion (56% RGV compared to 51% statewide), AP/dual credit completion (38% RGV compared to 35% statewide) and higher education immediate enrollment rate (57% RGV compared to 53% statewide).
- On four of the indicators, RGV students are at the same levels as their Texas peers – STAAR 3rd grade reading (76%), 2-year institutions of higher education (IHE) graduation rate (16%), and higher education graduates employed or enrolled in 2-year IHEs (89%) and 4-year IHEs (78%).
- Finally, illustrating the generational shift toward better education access and success, the report shows that among adults 25 years and older, only 22% have some college education or associates degree, but 42% of the younger generation (18-to-24) has some college education or associates degree – almost double the rate!
The report also illustrated educational challenges the region faces, particularly in postsecondary education.
"Regional collaboration is changing lives. While we celebrate our progress, we must recognize that the Rio Grande Valley's changing economy – ever evolving with jobs in education, healthcare, advanced manufacturing and retail/service – requires increasingly advanced levels of education," said Dr. Canales, a Valley native who joined RGV FOCUS in 2013. "As we enter our fifth year, our ultimate goal is to improve our systems and reduce the barriers students face so more can successfully complete college degrees or credential programs."
Funders supporting RGV FOCUS are the Greater Texas Foundation; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; W.W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation; Ford Foundation; and Lumina Foundation.
The members of the Collective are as follows:
Brownsville ISD, Donna ISD, Edcouch-Elsa ISD, Edinburg CISD, Excellence in Leadership Academy, Harlingen CISD, IDEA Public Schools, Ignite Public Schools, La Feria ISD, La Joya ISD, La Villa ISD, Lasara ISD, Los Fresnos CISD, Lyford CISD, McAllen ISD, Mercedes ISD, Mid-Valley Academy Charter District, Mission CISD, Monte Alto ISD, PSJA ISD, Point Isabel ISD, Progresso ISD, Raymondville ISD, Rio Grande City CISD, Rio Hondo ISD, Roma ISD, San Benito CISD, San Isidro ISD, San Perlita ISD, Santa Maria ISD, Santa Rosa ISD, Sharyland ISD, South Texas Educational Technologies Inc., South Texas ISD, Valley View ISD, Vanguard Academy and Weslaco ISD.
South Texas College, Texas Southmost College, Texas State Technical College-Harlingen and University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
Educate Texas, Equal Voice Network, La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), Region One Education Service Center, Equal Voice Network, United Way of Southern Cameron County and Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement (VIDA).
Workforce Solutions Cameron County and Workforce Solutions Lower Rio Grande Valley.
To learn more or get involved in RGV FOCUS, visit rgvfocus.org.
About RGV FOCUS
RGV FOCUS is a collective impact initiative in the Rio Grande Valley – a group of leaders from school districts, higher education institutions, community-based organizations and the workforce partnering to improve student lives from cradle-to-career. RGV FOCUS was launched in 2012 to transform college readiness, access and success across Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr and Willacy counties. The work to date is driven by the following vision: All RGV learners will achieve a degree or credential that leads to a meaningful career. RGV FOCUS is a collaboration with Educate Texas, a public-private initiative of Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT). For more information, please visit rgvfocus.org.
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SOURCE RGV FOCUS