Dear Fellow Nebraskans:
In 2009, Nebraska reorganized its preschool through college (P-16) initiative to strengthen the education that we provide to Nebraska students. As good as Nebraska's education is now; it needs to be even better in the future.
As Governor, I chair the P-16 Initiative and the Co-Chairs are State Senator Greg Adams, Chair of the Legislature's Education Committee, Commissioner of Education Roger Breed, University of Nebraska President J.B. Milliken and President and CEO of Education Quest Foundation Liz Koop.
The eight goals of the P-16 Initiative are as follows:
· Adopt a college and career preparation core curriculum that requires four years of English and three years each of math, science and social studies in Nebraska school districts by the 2014-15 school year.
· Eliminate the academic achievement gap between Nebraska's K-12 Caucasian students and its African American, Hispanic, and Native American students.
· Develop an effective longitudinal data system which provides information on the Nebraska educational system from preschool through post-graduate degree attainment and entry into the workforce to help align resources with strategic goals.
· Attain a high school graduation rate of 90 percent or higher in every Nebraska high school.
· Improve Nebraska's college-going rank to the Top 10 tier nationally.
· Provide affordable access for Nebraska students to attend Nebraska's postsecondary institutions.
· Improve time to degree completion and increase graduation rates of Nebraska's postsecondary institutions.
· Provide all students with the science, technology and math skills to succeed in postsecondary education and the 21st Century workforce.
The State Board of Education has already approved increased high school graduation requirements. The Department of Education, the University of Nebraska, our State Colleges and our Community Colleges are working together to develop more effective data systems.
The University of Nebraska and Nebraska's State Colleges have revised their curriculum requirements so that students in most majors can graduate in four years with 120 credit hours. Much of higher education had 128-135 credit hours required for graduation with the exception of those programs where accreditation requires more hours.
Currently, Nebraska's high school graduation rate is approximately 86 percent, which puts us in the top 10 states for graduation rate. Our goal is 90 percent.
These goals are designed to work together to improve the academic achievement of our students. Nebraska is now conducting statewide assessments in reading, writing, mathematics and science.
This allows the state to partner with local districts to fairly compare the test results, to share best practices among school districts, and to develop individual, strategic school district plans to improve the academic success of Nebraska students.
We are encouraged by the focus on academic achievement by Nebraska's school districts. We will continue that focus in the future and we are working to strengthen the coordination and cooperation between K-12 and higher education.