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VA Gov McDonnell Unveils Opportunity to Learn Education Agenda for 2012

January 11, 2012

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell unveiled his 2012 legislative and budget actions that support his administration's ongoing Opportunity to Learn K-12 education agenda. The governor's proposed budget also includes $438 million in new K-12 funding over the next biennium. The 2012 Opportunity to Learn agenda includes proposals in several areas: Streamlined diploma requirements — to consolidate the number of high school diplomas from seven to three more rigorous and meaningful requirements; A more rigorous standard diploma — to require career and technical education credentials and/or a state licensure examination, national occupational competency assessment or the Virginia workplace readiness skills assessment ($308,655 in funding); A dual enrollment agreement — to establish pathways for students to complete an associate's degree or a one-year certificate of general studies from the Virginia Community College system concurrent with a high school diploma; and, An Innovative Options Technical Advisory Committee — to provide guidance to potential applicants during the planning process for charter schools, college partnership laboratory schools and virtual school programs ($201,624 in funding). It also includes funding proposals that will focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) initiatives: Provide $80,000 in funding for the Health Sciences academies to provide planning and first year startup funding in FY13; Fund a request for proposals to develop an elementary education preK-6 approved program with a major in mathematics, sciences or integrated sciences and mathematics; Fund a request for proposals to develop middle/secondary approved programs focusing on the preparation of mathematics and science teachers; and, Provide $600,000 in funding for incentive awards for teachers in STEM areas. Eligible new teacher in a STEM subject area is eligible to receive a $5,000 incentive award after the completion of the first year of teaching with a satisfactory performance evaluation. An additional $1,000 incentive award may be granted for each year the eligible teacher receives a satisfactory evaluation (maximum incentive award is $8,000).