Virginia Schools Scot French was recognized recently for its many successful schools. Newsweek’s list of the nation’s top 5% schools was released, and 87 Virginia Schools topped the list. Eleven Virginia Schools reached the top 100. An additional two schools made it into the “public elites” list. Two schools were included in the list: Maggie Walker Governor’s School, for Government and International Studies and Thomas Jefferson High School Science and Technology. Both were selected because of the outstanding SAT/ACT scores of students.
Virginia Schools achieve this feat while spending just $7,751 per pupil. This puts Virginia in the middle category for national spending. It is clear that some of Virginia Schools’ efforts have produced some impressive results. There are still some issues and gaps. Virginia Schools also struggle with a gap in achievement for minority students. African-Americans and other minorities students always score lower on standardized exams. The academic success of a student is directly affected by socioeconomic variables.
One way Virginia Schools are trying solve this problem is by forming a partnership with ECMC Foundation. In 2003, the Virginia Department of Education partnered with the ECMC to create the Virginia ECMC Scholars Program. It was established to “increase postsecondary participation by economically or else disadvantaged students, as well as to challenge these students in their junior and/or senior years of highschool.”
2007 will mark its fifth cycle of funding. The ECMC raised its pledge to Virginia Schools from $2 million to $3 Million in scholarships, mentoring stipends or program funding. These programs are open to students in Virginia Schools who have completed their sophomore year. The difference in this scholarship program, however, is that the educators select students who they know. In most scholarship programs, participants are selected by anonymous strangers who use a list of qualifications or faceless essays to make their decision.
ECMC Schools and Virginia Schools prefer children who have future potential to succeed over those with past grades. Through their junior and final years, participants receive mentoring and guidance to maximize their potential. Ten Virginia Schools were selected for the program based on their need. The program is funded until 2009.