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Mark R. Warner, Governor of Virginia
   

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Virginia rated Number One in nation

Senior Year Plus

Governor Warner's Senior Year Plus initiative transforms the senior year of high school by offering students new options to get a jump on their college careers or achieve an industry certification.

“The senior year is obviously the critical intersection between K-12 education, and either higher education or the world of work," said Governor Warner. "But today's high schools are often working from old models that won't successfully prepare our kids for productive lives in the 21st century."

Governor Warner's Senior Year Plus initiative has made Virginia's high schools more flexible, supportive, and effective in helping all students -- advanced, low-performing or in between.

Specifically, the initiative offers two options that better prepare students for life after high school while reducing the cost of college tuition for families. These options are called Path to Industry Certification and Early College Scholars Program.

Path to Industry Certification

The Governor's Senior Year Plus initiative encourages students who are not college bound to continue working towards high school graduation while pursuing technical training for a selected industry certification, such as a Licensed Practical Nurse or Auto Body and Collision Technician.

Here's how the program works:

• Participating students and their parents sign a Student Compact agreeing that the student will complete high school and then enroll in further technical training to acquire the appropriate skills and certifications needed to enter a higher-wage career.

• Typically, students continue to take industry-specific training at their local community college during the summer and fall after graduation. Up to one semester of technical training will be available tuition-free to students in the same calendar year after graduation from high school, as long as that semester allows them to complete the certification program.

• This initiative also establishes teacher-training academies to increase the number of high school teachers with appropriate industry certifications.

(View a sample list of industry certifications.)

Early College Scholars

Under the Governor's Senior Year Plus initiative, eligible high school seniors can complete their high school diploma and concurrently earn up to a semester's worth of credits (15 credit hours) that can be used towards a college degree. These students are noted in college applications as Early College Scholars.

Students earning a college degree in seven semesters instead of eight can save an average of $5,000 in tuition. Accelerated degrees would also help alleviate the expected space crunch from 61,000 additional students projected to seek admission to Virginia colleges and universities by the year 2010.

The Class of 2005 in Virginia included 6,177 members who earned the Early College Scholar distinction.

Here's how the Early College Scholars program works:

• Students and their parents sign an agreement outlining the requirements for participation. College-level courses offered through dual enrollment, International Baccalaureate or Advanced Placement are available to these students. And up to 1,500 students are also eligible for assistance on the cost of AP exams.

• Distance-learning networks (dubbed a Virtual Advanced Placement School) give Virginia high school students access to a broad range of AP courses, regardless of where they live.

• In addition to being an excellent, all-around college prep guide, the Virginia Mentor Web site shows students how they can take advantage of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, dual enrollment and other options in order to accelerate their learning.

• A statewide coordinator, "virtual" counselors, and school-based career guidance and academic advising software all work in support of the Senior Year Plus program.

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Governor of Virginia - Mark R. Warner
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