Since the year 2000, Kentucky’s college attainment rate (associate degrees and higher) among working-aged adults 25 to 64 years old has improved by six percentage points – from 24.5 to 30.5 percent. While Kentucky still lags many states on this measure (currently ranked 45th), it has moved two positions closer to the U.S. average, and the actual percentage change from 2000 to 2009 was the largest of any state in the nation (see Figure 1).
More remarkable, the percentage of college degree-holders among the younger adults – those most likely impacted by many of the recent reform efforts – has improved by more than six percentage points (from 27.3 to 33.7 percent). The most notable change with respect to this age-group is the change in Kentucky’s state ranking from 44th in 2000 to 36th in 2009. Over this time period, Kentucky moved more positions in the positive direction than any state in the U.S.That comes from a report prepared by NCHEMS--the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems--and released today by the Council on Postsecondary Education.
The report also places Kentucky:
- 1st for improvement in the six-year graduation rate at four-year schools.
- 1st for improvement in number of undergraduate credentials awarded be 1,000 18 to 44 year olds with no college degree.
- 3rd for improvement in the three-year graduation rate at two-year schools.
- 5th for improvement in number of undergraduate credentials awarded (of one-year or more in length).
Given Kentucky's historical challenges, we need that kind of progress--and more--to catch up with the nation and prepare fully for the knowledge economy. That said, this news is well worth celebration on the way to continuing to press for further improvement. The report comes with recommendations on how that further progress can be made, and it is well worth a full reading.