Gov. Steve Beshear and First Lady Jane Beshear this week received the National Dropout Prevention Network’s 2014 Crystal Star Award for Distinguished Leadership and Service.

“Governor Beshear and the first lady have demonstrated their commitment to education by championing programs and legislation designed to ensure that students throughout the state not only graduate high school but are college- and career-ready,” said Elizabeth Reynolds, the network’s executive director. “Their example is certainly one to emulate and we are pleased to recognize their leadership in dropout prevention with the Crystal Star Award.”

The Beshears received the award Tuesday during the organization’s national conference in Louisville. The award is presented annually to individuals and organizations who have demonstrated their commitment to education and to bettering the lives of others.

Beshear and the first lady – a former teacher – worked with the General Assembly in 2013 to introduce, pass and implement Senate Bill 97, also known as the Graduate Kentucky Bill. The legislation increases the compulsory school attendance age from 16 to 18. SB 97 stated that implementation would be voluntary until 55 percent — or 96 — of the state’s school districts adopted the policy. As of this week, 160 of the state’s 173 school districts had amended their attendance policies from 16 to 18. The remainder of Kentucky’s school districts must adopt and implement the standard no later than the 2017-18 school year.

“Keeping students enrolled in school is just the first step,” said Gov. Beshear. “We must also keep them engaged and on the path to graduation and success in college, career and life. Preventing dropouts strengthens our economy and workforce, and improves the standard of living for every citizen.”