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RGV Focus releases Baseline, Community reports; regional leaders cite collaboration as key to student success

Focus Releases
Members of the RGV Focus Leadership Team: Dr. Arturo Cavazos, Harlingen CISD superintendent;
Francisco Almaraz, Workforce Solutions CEO; Dr. Luzelma Canales, RGV Focus executive director;
Juanita Valdez-Cox, La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) executive director; Dr. Shirley Reed, South Texas
College president; Dr. Havídan Rodríguez, UTPA president ad interim and UTRGV founding provost and
executive vice president for Academic Affairs; and Dr. Daniel King, PSJA ISD superintendent.

McALLEN, TEXASMAY 20, 2015 – The importance of regional collaboration in student success from cradle to career was under the microscope Wednesday, May 20, in McAllen, during a panel discussion hosted by RGV Focus.

The group also unveiled its Baseline Report and Community Report, highlighting student success in the Rio Grande Valley.

More than 40 organizations – school districts, colleges, universities and community groups – and more than 100 individuals are part of the RGV Focus, a collective impact initiative whose cross-sector Leadership Team meets regularly to identify assets and needs in the Valley. The group shares a common vision – “All RGV learners will achieve a degree or credential that leads to a meaningful career” – goals, strategies and metrics.

Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, UTPA president ad interim and founding provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs for The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, is on the Leadership Team, along with Dr. Arturo Cavazos, Harlingen CISD superintendent; Francisco Almaraz, Workforce Solutions CEO; Dr. Luzelma Canales, RGV Focus executive director; Juanita Valdez-Cox, La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) executive director; Dr. Shirley Reed, president of South Texas College; and Dr. Daniel King, PSJA ISD superintendent.

Rodríguez and the others were part of the panel on Wednesday that discussed the Baseline and Community reports, which include information about cross-sector collaboration in the area; statistics on adult and student populations; data on Valley student success compared to the state of Texas; and highlights from RGV Focus’ school district and higher education partners.

“This is a great opportunity because it allows us to establish these partnerships, to establish these communities, and to get to know the community to better address the issues and the challenges that they confront, and the issues and challenges that we confront,” Rodríguez said.

RGV Focus initiatives will transfer from UTPA and UTB/TSC to UTRGV in fall 2015, Rodríguez said, and they will live in the new College of Education and P-16 Integration.

“The goal here is to work with the local schools to better prepare our students at the high school level and ensure that they transition smoothly, with the education that they need, in order to be successful at UTRGV,” Rodríguez said.

The reports reflect the first time that leaders from school districts, institutions of higher education, and community-based organizations have agreed upon common measures for student success across Hidalgo, Cameron, Starr and Willacy counties.

The report notes that the Valley leads the state on six of nine education indicators:

  • FAFSA (financial aid) completion by high school seniors (59 percent Valley vs. 51 percent Texas).
  • Number of students earning college credit in high school through Advanced Placement and dual credit (32 percent Valley vs. 31 percent Texas).
  • Higher education enrollment (56 percent Valley vs. 54 percent Texas).
  • Percent of students graduating from two-year colleges (17 percent Valley vs. 14 percent Texas).
  • Number of graduates fully employed in occupations requiring a two-year college degree (92 percent Valley vs. 89 percent Texas).
  • And the number of graduates fully employed in occupations requiring a four-year university degree (78 percent Valley vs. 78 percent Texas).

“This collaborative effort among all Rio Grande Valley partners has been very important to the development of this report,” said Dr. Luzelma Canales, executive director of RGV Focus. “Each contribution has helped us identify critical criteria of measurements that will enable us to contribute to the success of our students.”

For more information on RGV Focus visit http://rgvfocus.org/.

For more information on UTRGV, visit the website at www.utrgv.edu, like its Facebook page, or follow @utrgv on Twitter.   


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