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More States to Offer Scholarships

Four new states have been selected for participation in the State Scholars Initiative, a national business-education partnership effort designed to increase the number of students who take a rigorous curriculum in high school, the U.S. Education Department announced today.

The states are: Missouri, New Hampshire, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Under the State Scholars Initiative, each state will receive up to $300,000 during a two-year period to implement scholars programs in at least four school districts. Local business-education partnerships will work with students in those districts, encouraging them to take a rigorous course of study — one that will give them a boost no matter whether they go to college or straight to work.

The Scholars Core Course of Study includes:

  • Four years of English
  • Three years of math (algebra I and II and geometry)
  • Three years of science (biology, chemistry and physics)
  • Three and a half years of social studies (U.S. history, world history, geography, economics or government)
  • Two years of a language other than English

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“Students who take rigorous courses in high school stand a far greater chance of succeeding in college and the workplace,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. “We congratulate the states of Missouri, New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Wyoming for recognizing the potential of this program and the considerable benefit that it can provide young people.”

Besides the State Scholars Initiative, President Bush earlier this year launched two other significant programs designed to encourage students to take challenging courses in high school. In February, the president signed legislation setting aside more than $790 million in Academic Competitiveness Grants and National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (National SMART grants).

Those awards will encourage students to pursue rigorous classes in high school and college majors in high demand in the global economy, such as science, mathematics, technology, engineering and critical foreign languages.

Academic Competitiveness Grants will be available to students for their first and second academic years of college, while National SMART Grants will help support students in their third and fourth years of school.

In the State Scholars Initiative, a high-impact strategy is used to motivate students to tackle demanding high school courses that prepare them for college and careers. The program features business people making presentations to eighth-graders just before they select their high school courses.

Business volunteers help students understand the career options and monetary benefits of taking challenging courses. Students may receive academic support, incentives, and special recognition that help ensure their success, especially in the more difficult courses.

The four new states announced today join 20 others previously chosen for participation. They include: Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.

The State Scholars Initiative is funded by the Education Department’s Office of Vocational and Adult Education, headed by Assistant Secretary Troy Justesen. The program is overseen by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education in Boulder, Colo.

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For more information on the State Scholars Initiative, see the program’s website, which includes a brochure, fact sheet, newsletter, as well as links to state briefs and each of the participating states’ web sites at Details on the Academic Competitiveness and National SMART Grants can be found at