ISSUE 11  |  SUMMER 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.

Scorecard at a Glance: FY 2013 Trend Changes back to top

Scorecard at a Glance thumbnailKeeping Virginia Performs fresh and relevant includes making regular updates and enhancements to key indicators throughout the year. Council staff also conducts a final review of every indicator on the Scorecard at a Glance near fiscal year end to see what trend changes might be warranted.

This year's trend changes all reflect positive movement, with five indicators moving from a "maintaining" trend to an "improving" one.


Virginia's economy -- not as badly hit as many states during the recent recession -- has been on the mend for the last couple of years. The state's average unemployment rate never rose much above 7%, and has been improving since 2010. Personal income has also risen slightly in each of the last two years. Business investment -- in the form of new startups and new jobs -- was a bit slower to respond, but has also seen reversals into positive territory recently. For example:

Business startups increased slightly in 2010 and 2011, the last year for which finalized data is available. Startups increased in all regions in 2010 and 2011, except in the West Central region in 2011, and newer economic data suggests continued improvement in 2012.

Employment growth has continued to improve. After stabilizing in 2010, employment levels increased in 2011, and there was improvement in most areas, except for modest job losses in the Eastern (-.63%) and Southside (-.05%) regions in 2011. Economic data indicate continued job growth occurred in 2012.


In 2008, Virginia's average rate for high school graduation was just 82.1%. By 2012, it had risen to 88%.

Every trend change in this year's Scorecard at a Glance showed an improvement in performance.

Although Virginia's high school dropout rate hasn't seen quite that level of progress, it has been steadily getting better: from an average 8.7% rate in 2008 to 6.5% in 2012. Dropout rates declined in all regions for the second year in a row, except for West Central in 2012, which at 7.3%, was still below its recent 5-year average.

Virginia's newer, more accurate on-time cohort data is more current than national data from the National Center for Educational Statistics, which also showed some improvement in dropout rates for the 2008-09 school year.

Immunization rates for children increased for the second year in a row, rising from just under 70% in 2009 to just over 77% in 2011. These rates indicate that Virginia is back on track for childhood vaccinations, which had seen marked drop-offs in recent years. Adult vaccinations are also positive. While the percentage of older adults vaccinated for the flu has decreased from a high in 2007, the current rate is not far from the long-term trend, and the rate of older adults immunized against pneumonia is at its highest level since 2002.

State and local tax burdens are measured several ways on Virginia Performs: as a percentage of income for national comparisons; and locally, both as a per capita amount and as a percentage of income. 2010 national data show Virginia's state and local taxation rate decreased slightly (to 9.3%) -- the second year in a row of modest declines. Regionally speaking, average per capita taxes in 2011 totalled $1,748, down over $50 from the previous year and nearly $175 less than 2009 rates. end of story

Better Educational Outcomes Require Community Support and Leadership  back to top

Education, perhaps more than any other single factor, is a direct determinant of well-being, prosperity, and quality of life for both individual Virginians and their families, communities, and state. High school graduates are more likely to have higher incomes; to vote, contribute, and otherwise participate in their community; to be covered by health insurance; and to avoid jail or prison. Education is the foundation from which we can maintain and build a robust and productive society.

Graph showing how VA compares to U.S. and global competition in higher ed attainmentOverall, the Commonwealth ranks very high on measures of educational attainment. In 2011, the state ranked 7th nationally for adult residents with at least a bachelor's degree. But Virginia faces several challenges related to its educational attainment:

  • In global comparisons, the educational attainment of Virginians aged 25 to 34 lags markedly behind a growing number of key competitors, including Korea, Canada, and Japan.
  • The educational attainment of Virginia's 25- to 34-year-olds is lower than that of the previous generation (aged 35 to 44). Except for a handful of states, this is also true of younger adults across the U.S.
  • Attainment levels vary widely among Virginia regions. Less than 14% of adults in the Southside and Southwest regions had attained a bachelor's degree in 2011, and only about 75% had graduated high school. By contrast, over half the population in the Northern region had a bachelor's degree or higher; in the Central and Hampton Roads regions, those college attainment levels were 31% and 27%, respectively.
  • Recent analysis by the Center on Education and Workforce at Georgetown University indicates that by 2018 over 60% of jobs in Virginia will require postsecondary education.
  • But as of 2012, only 38 of 100 incoming high school freshman in Virginia will complete a two-year or four-year degree within the normal completion time (3 to 6 years).

It is critical that Virginia continue to address these challenges early on in the education pipeline. Education reformers are currently discussing a number of solutions for accelerating the achievement of our young people, including strategies for digital learning, standards and testing, and high-quality teachers. Virginia has initiated a number of reforms in each of these areas; for example, new incentives are in place to recruit and retain high-performing teachers in STEM-H subjects.

Beyond educational reform efforts, community involvement can give students a sense of aspiration, the confidence that they matter, and the resilience to succeed.   end of story

New "Virginia's Regions" Section on Virginia Performs  back to top

Every state is comprised of scores of counties and cities and towns which often work independently of one another. However, these entities also share important characteristics -- geographical, economic, cultural -- that make it natural for them to be considered together and for them to work together on shared needs and projects.

Virginia Performs regions map with legendIn order to make Virginia Performs more effective and responsive to the state's overall goals, the Council on Virginia's Future developed a regional model of the state that:

  • Allows comparisons of local outcomes (e.g., high school graduation rates) reflected in the performance indicators on Virginia Performs
  • Facilitates regional forums and other discussions to develop strategies designed to improve outcomes

The Council's regional system has been in place since 2005, and regional data and graphs are included with every indicator on Virginia Performs whenever available. Now the new Virginia's Regions section of the website offers users additional ways to understand and view regional performance. Among these:

  • Regional Scorecards summarize current performance for each region on over 30 societal indicators, including economic issues, educational success, health indicators, and more.
  • Regional Trends at a Glance offer data analysis-based trends for the near future -- and allow at-a-glance comparisons of performance among the regions on specific indicators.

Virginia's Regions also starts with an interactive map linked to listings of every locality included in each region. Users can get to this content from a link on the top right side of every page on Virginia Performs.

Check it out!   end of story

Expansion of Online Services -- and Beyond  back to top

Virginia continues its impressive efforts to expand its increasing array of online services and citizen-government interactions, especially in agencies where licensing and permitting activities are core functions. Mine operators, healthcare licensees, tradesmen, the newly unemployed, and the new entrepreneur are among the many who can now accomplish much of what they need through a few mouse clicks.

One new advance in online service is from the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS), which launched CommonHelp* to allow Virginians to apply for benefits online, any time, from the privacy and convenience of their homes or anywhere the Internet is available to them. CommonHelp lets clients:

  • CommonHelp logoDetermine their eligibility for DSS benefits and services
  • Apply for those benefits and services, including renewals
  • Check their benefits status
  • Report any changes to their personal status
  • Access help 24-7

CommonHelp is part of a broader initiative called eHHR (Electronic Health and Human Resources), which combines federal and state provisions to "collectively improve healthcare and human services by providing access to the right services for the right people at the right time and for the right cost."

Originally created with the reforms under the Affordable Care Act in mind, eHHR first focused on interoperability and a seamless customer experience among HHR agencies, but has grown into a larger collaboration that also includes the Technology, Transportation, and Administrative secretariats.

These improvements will significantly enhance cross-agency data management capabilities and increase interoperability throughout the Commonwealth.

Look for more information on this challenging undertaking in an upcoming newsletter.  end of story

* NOTE: Link may load very slowly for new visitors.