Gov. Perry Issues Executive Order to Enhance College Readiness Efforts
$4 Million Directive will Complement Newly-Announced Technology Academies
Gov. Rick Perry today issued an executive order directing the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Higher Education Coordination Board to enhance college readiness standards and programs at high schools across the state. Perry made the announcement at the A.J. Moore Academy in Waco, which will be one of the first schools to benefit from a separate college readiness effort by the Texas High School Project (THSP) the governor announced yesterday.
"As the world steadily marches towards a global, high-tech economy, it is more important than ever before that our public schools place a greater emphasis on college readiness," Perry said, "This executive order is a $4 million investment in a skilled workforce, a strong economy and the lives of thousands of Texas children who will be better prepared for high-end achievement in college and success in the workplace of tomorrow."
Under Perry's directive, the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board will work to create:
* A new system of college readiness indicators for every high school, including a requirement that schools report the number of graduates who have to take remedial courses when they get to college,
* Voluntary end-of-course assessments for technology-related subjects like math and science to more accurately measure student progress,
* An electronic academic records system to facilitate the transfer of student transcripts between school districts and between high schools and colleges. This will reduce paperwork requirements and make it easier for students to apply to multiple colleges at once,
* Summer residential programs at Texas colleges and universities for secondary students who excel to provide enhanced learning opportunities, and
* A pilot program to pay the cost of college entrance exams for economically disadvantaged students.
The governor said his order to improve college readiness across the state will complement the new Texas Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Initiative (T-STEM), which will establish 35 specialized academies designed to help economically disadvantaged students gain the skills needed to pursue a career in science-based fields. THSP will invest $200,000 to launch one of the first T-STEM academies at the Waco school.
"The T-STEM Initiative is important because it focuses our efforts where they are needed most - in areas where there are a high number of disadvantaged students who are too often left in the shadows of opportunity," Perry said. "Along with the executive order I am issuing today, these initiatives will help us close the science and math gap that exists in our schools today before it becomes a salary gap for tomorrow's workers, and an opportunity gap for the entire state."
The T-STEM initiative also will create up to six professional development and technical assistance centers for high school educators, and establish a statewide best-practices network so that successful models can be replicated across Texas. The overarching goal of T-STEM is to better align high schools with post-secondary education and the workforce demands of tomorrow's high-tech economy.
T-STEM will be funded with $20 million in grants each from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Susan & Michael Dell Foundation, $20 million in state funds from the Texas Education Agency (TEA), $10 million from TEA in federal funds, and $1 million from National Instruments.
Perry announced the creation of the $130 million Texas High School Project in 2003, a joint venture of the state and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation and the Communities Foundation of Texas. The Texas High School project supports new and re-designed high schools, educator training and development, and specific programs designed to help students prepare for college.
Perry was joined in Waco by joined by Education Commissioner Shirley Neeley and the director of the Texas High School Project, John Fitzpatrick.