"Go to school and study hard" is something Texas students have been told for generations. In today's world, with the U.S. Department of Labor estimating that 90 percent of new high-growth, high-wage jobs are requiring some level of postsecondary education, it's more important than ever for Texas high school students to have the foundation they need to successfully complete college courses and compete in the workforce. Fortunately, Texas is doing a good job in this area. Recently, the Lone Star State was recognized for increasing curriculum standards to ensure our students will have the skills they need to succeed once they leave high school.
According to Achieve, a bi-partisan, non-profit organization created to raise academic standards and graduation requirements, Texas is the first and only state to meet all college and career readiness measures. Texas gets an "A" for having the most comprehensive approach to college and career-ready accountability, and is one of only 21 states to increase graduation requirements.
While Texas makes strides in preparing students for college, the reality is many students will not pursue higher education, and instead, go straight into the workforce. Through a program called Parallel Pathways to Success, the Texas Department of Agriculture is helping prepare students for their futures by funding projects in rural Texas communities that help them earn job training, and in some instances college credit, prior to graduation. In 2009, TDA awarded more than $500,000 to help fund such programs.
Sure, I would like to see every high school graduate pursue higher education, since we know those with bachelor's degrees earn approximately $20,000 more than those without them. But for students who choose not to go for that degree, it is critical that we put them on a track to success through skills training.