A report released Wednesday by the Southern Regional Education Board urges West Virginia and other southern states to make immediate changes to improve student achievement in grades six through eight.
Failure to do so could put an entire generation of students at risk for being unprepared to graduate from high school and succeed in colleges or careers, the report asserts.
The report says that although students have made good progress in early grades achievement in recent years, when they reach the middle grades, they start to lose momentum and often reach ninth grade unprepared for high school courses, which leads too many students to give up and drop out.
The SREB says 25 percent of students in the region entering ninth grade fail to graduate from high school on time. West Virginia has a slightly better rate, at only 23 percent. This is a major concern, as recent research shows the fastest growing jobs in the years ahead will be those requiring a college degree or technical certificate, the report says.