ISSUE 10  |  SPRING 2013
Virginia Performs, a signature initiative of the Council, is a performance leadership and accountability system that links a
high-level vision and key goals for citizens with performance-based planning and assessment across all levels of state government.

Positive Gains Not Always Shared Across Regions  back to top

The Virginia Report 2012 and our previous newsletter highlighted our improving economic picture in 2012. As is often the case for Virginia, external economic forces not only have major impacts on overall state economic performance, but also produce highly variable effects on our diverse regional economies.

Regional Economies, Regional Differences

Ed-PCPI by VA regionThese regional variations are important because "Virginia's economy" is really a collection of multiple, unique, regional economies -- and we have found that statewide averages can mask frequently stark regional differences. The chart at left, for instance (click for full size), highlights the significant differences in educational attainment and personal per capita income across the Council's eight regions.

Other indicators that reveal sometimes marked disparities in regional performance are Unemployment, Third Grade Reading, Child Abuse, and Crime.

Scorecard at a Glance-Central RegionThese differences also matter because the right strategies to improve performance will vary by area. In addition to regularly tracking regional data on Virginia Performs, the Council's annual The Virginia Report includes additional region-based profiles. We are also now further strengthening regional assessment by developing regional versions of the Scorecard at a Glance and the Virginia Workforce Development System Report Card.(Click image at left for a PDF sample of each for the Valley region.)

You may read more about the new Workforce System Report Card below.

Widespread Improvements

Even though the Commonwealth's regions don't always exhibit uniform success, Virginia Performs does show that a number of societal measures have been improving steadily over time. Some examples:

  • Virginia's average on-time high school graduation rate has improved each of the past four years and, at 88 percent in 2012, is about 6 full percentage points higher than in 2008 (the year the new, more accurate measure of graduation was implemented).
  • At the same time, the statewide high school dropout rate has generally declined steadily since 2008; the average dropout rate in 2012 (6.5%) is about 25 percent lower than in 2008 (8.7%).
  • Educational attainment levels have also improved over the years, with the percentage of adults with at least a high school diploma increasing from 83.9% in 2002 to 87.8% in 2011, and the percentage with at least a bachelor's degree increasing from 31.7% to 35.1% over the same period. These improvements were seen in every region of the state.
  • Average age-adjusted death rates from both cancer and cardiovascular disease have dropped steadily since 2001, falling by about 15% for cancer and more than 31% for cardiovascular disease by 2011.
  • Both violent and property crime rates fell sharply from 2005 to 2011: The number of violent crimes per 100,000 people fell by 30% and the property crime rate by almost 15%.
  • In addition, Virginia has consistently ranked among the best states on a number of indicators, including foster care (see sidebar at right), child abuse, state bond rating, and historic resourcesend of story

Behind Virginia's New Workforce System Report Card  back to top

Virginia's Workforce System Report Card

The new Virginia Workforce System Report Card, the first in a series of issue-oriented report cards based on the Virginia Performs model, was released in December 2012. Where the overall Scorecard at a Glance answers the question, "How is Virginia doing?", the workforce report card is designed to answer the question, "How is Virginia's workforce system doing?"

The Commonwealth's workforce development system is multi-layered and involves multiple agencies and levels of government, as well as many partners, both public and private. Assessing the performance of such a complex system has long been a significant challenge.

That's why Virginia has shifted its approach to using career pathways -- collaborative partnerships that focus on developing regional workforce solutions aligned with local business needs -- as the defining model for the future. Career pathways are targeted to emerging and current workers, as well as the unemployed and underemployed.

Report Card Goals

The new Virginia Workforce System Report Card's 6 key goals capture the many elements involved in creating these pathways to career success:

  • Increase the number of students with science, technology, engineering, math and healthcare skills (STEM-H).
  • Enable all students to complete high school and prepare for college.
  • Increase student readiness for both postsecondary education and the workplace.
  • Increase the number of students entering college and earning degrees, certifications, licenses, and apprenticeships.
  • Reduce unemployment and increase both employment and income.
  • Increase credentials and enrollments in manufacturing-related programs; improve the reach of manufacturing instruction and overall employment.

Each goal area has several indicators aimed at tracking progress toward these goals. The Council has partnered with Virginia's Workforce Data Quality Initiative -- part of Virginia's Longitudinal Data System -- to maintain the data behind these measures and to make them accessible to local, regional, and state thought leaders.

Virginia's Workforce System Report Card will continue to evolve. As a next step, the Council will explore moving beyond system-level performance to capture responsiveness to business and industry needs. New indicators would track the ability to match workforce supply-and-demand for industry and occupations at a regional level.

Explore Virginia's Workforce Development System Report Card on Virginia Performs.  end of story

Virginia Continues to Shine in Education Rankings  back to top

The Commonwealth has long been noted for having an excellent education system and Virginia's students continue to reap its rewards.

Some recent good news in education:

Quality Counts

Quality Counts 2013 report coverFor the second year in a row, Education Week ranked Virginia 4th nationally for overall educational quality and performance in its 2013 Quality Counts report.

Quality Counts grades are based on the performance of states in six broad areas: the role of education in promoting success at various stages of life; K-12 student achievement; rigor and quality of academic standards, assessments and accountability systems; teacher preparation, licensure and evaluation; school finance; and transitions and alignment of state policies related to school, college and workforce readiness.

  • Virginia's overall grade of 82.9 was just behind 3 other states: New York (83.1), Massachusetts (84.1), and top-ranked Maryland (87.5). Twenty-six states ranked above the national average of 76.9.
  • Virginia scored highest on alignment criteria related to early education and the nexus between economy and workforce, as well as standards and accountability (each area scored the maximum 100 points).
  • The Commonwealth's lowest score was in college readiness (60.0). [Interestingly, Massachusetts -- another state well-known for its high baccalaureate rates and high per capita income -- also scored poorly on college readiness.]

You may view the full Quality Counts report at Education Week.

A Leader in College Completions

graduates hailing each other after ceremonyVirginia is also a national leader in completion rates for students attending college. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, which collects data from over 3,300 colleges and universities across the U.S., the average completion rate at 4-year schools for college students from Virginia is 76.4 percent -- 3rd highest in the nation. The national average is just 61 percent. 

The National Student Clearinghouse takes a student-centered approach to data; as a result, they follow students who take different, sometimes multiple paths toward a college degree, including those who transfer, maintain part-time or mixed enrollment status, or are adult learners.

Some other interesting performance stats for Virginia:

  • Virginia leads the U.S. for exclusively full-time students who started at a 4-year public institution, with a 90.48 percent completion rate.
  • Virginia is one of only 6 states where completion rates exceed 30 percent for those students who attend college strictly on a part-time basis.

For more information and detailed data, see the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.   end of story

Virginia Leads on LEED    back to top

green building plan

The U.S. Green Building Council has established an international -- and widely adopted -- ratings and accreditation system for green buildings, known as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). For the first time, Virginia took the Council's top spot nationally for having the most LEED-certified space in 2012.

LEED-certified buildings (new or existing) are designed or renovated to maximize efficiency of operation while minimizing impact on the environment. The end result: Structures that are much more efficient and cost-effective, not to mention "green."

Virginia now has nearly 30 million square feet of certified LEED building space -- or 3.71 square feet per resident.

For more info on LEED, see the U.S. Green Building Council site.

To see other ways Virginia is working on energy use, see Energy on Virginia Performs.