We are just so proud and elated to be here with you here this morning at Region One. What a beautiful facility. Am I correct? Beautiful.
I am so pleased to welcome you all to the RGV Focus Annual Scorecard release. Whether you are joining us in person or all our friends joining us virtually, thank you for joining us this morning.
As we reflect on 2020 with today’s scorecard release, we recognize that there are still many unknowns about how disruptions to learning and teaching which have lasted well into 2021 will impact students across the Rio Grande Valley. Long-term and short-term. But one thing is clear, together we must continue to strive for excellence and equity in our collaborative response to education and community development.
Our RGV Focus team has partnered with education, business and community leaders as evidenced today in your presence here and also the presence of our virtual participants to help families in need including households experiencing barriers in equitable access to technology.
As we continue to work with partners across the entire region we have never lost sight of our goal to improve what we have always known to be true. The goal to improve student outcomes along the entire cradle-to-career path in all four counties of the Rio Grande Valley, including Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr and Willacy counties.
That said, I am thrilled to share our 2020 Annual Scorecard results with you. Each year since 2012 we have tracked the key metrics our leaders and together all of us have identified to be important in understanding education in our region. And we also track our scores compared to those from the state of Texas.
In this year’s annual report you will see that the Rio Grande Valley students now match or outperform their Texas peers in nine out of ten key indicators. I want to just applaud that.
Let me offer you a few specific highlights: 54 percent of RGV high school students are completing advanced placement or dual credit courses exceeding the state average of 45 percent. Forty-five percent of Rio Grande Valley high school students are achieving college readiness on assessments and also exceeding the state average of 44 percent. And 66 percent of RGV high school seniors are completing the FAFSA of financial aid, exceeding the state average of 62 percent. And finally, 58 percent of RGV high school graduates are immediately enrolling and beginning instruction of higher education, exceeding the (state) average of 51 percent. This is big.
Let me bring this to light for you. That means more of our students are graduating high school and career ready and with higher education credits already completed, thanks to the strategic decisions by so many districts to leverage partnerships with our higher education partners. More young men and women have an opportunity to continue their education. And that is a tribute to your partnership and your support of all the initiatives we have focused on in the Rio Grande Valley. Give yourselves a round of applause.
It also means that RGV graduates are seeking access to financial aid and are continuing in higher education with a goal of entering the workforce in meaningful, high-demand occupations to earn a career.
While we are definitely are celebrating the successes that represent a growing shift in educational attainment for RGV Focus students, we know there is still work to be done. The end is only the beginning. And we could not have done this without your partnership. And we must work together to ensure more students find their place on a higher educational path that is right for them, complete their degree or credential and achieve career success. More and more jobs that are providing a living wage are wonderful but we want our students to get more. We want them to earn a good paying career.
We have invested so much time and energy in achieving and preparing our students from Pre-K to secondary and it does not end there. It is only the beginning. Because once they transition, that is where we need to support them even more.
I would like to thank all of our partners and leadership team members for their continued commitment to improving the lives of students across the Rio Grande Valley. And it is very heartfelt for me as evident in your presence today that our collaboration will continue and that we are bound to be more successful than ever.
Editor’s Note: The above commentary was made by Dr. Rodney Rodriguez (pictured above), senior director of RGV Focus at Educate Texas. The commentary was made at RGV Focus’ Annual Scorecard 2020 event, held May 27, 2021, at the Region One Education Service Center. This is the first in a three-part series about the event. Part Two will be published in our next edition.
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