Student Achievement Council: “modest increases” toward educational attainment goals, more rapid progress required

The Washington State Student Achievement council released its 2015 Roadmap Update, the first update since the state adopted its educational attainment goals for 2023. The goals:

• All adults in Washington, ages 25–44, will have a high school diploma or equivalent.

• At least 70 percent of Washington adults, ages 25–44, will have a postsecondary credential.

The report notes some improvement, but progress is too slow for the state to hit the targets. 

Early findings show the overall attainment gain is too low to meet the state’s goals by 2023. In addition, due to changes in the economy and population, enrollment levels have dropped. These are serious challenges, and this report makes clear that the attainment goals will be beyond reach without substantially higher levels of postsecondary enrollment and completion. We cannot wait until students’ last years of high school to promote postsecondary enrollment, nor can we wait for the next cyclical surge in nontraditional enrollment.

The 33-page report contains a lot of useful information. Specific recommendations, however, have yet to be developed. It’s a forward-looking report, recasting challenges as opportunities, and noting some positive developments on which to build (e.g., dual enrollment programs to “demystify” college, College Bound scholarships, the State Need Grant and more). Other opportunities:

Increased state commitments to early childhood education will enhance the pipeline of new learners, while substantial and strategic investments in K-12 and postsecondary education can help reduce the opportunity gap and expand capacity to serve more students. Helping students bridge the gap between secondary and postsecondary education will raise high school graduation rates and postsecondary participation rates—two areas where Washington lags behind national averages. Moreover, new initiatives aimed at older, nontraditional students will accelerate progress toward the state’s attainment goals.

Multiple strategies can fundamentally change the high school graduation rates for all students and close the opportunity gap. Timely student support can be pivotal in ensuring students graduate from high school and are college ready. Efforts to increase high school completion, college readiness, and access to postsecondary education must expand.

Seattle Times story here. We cited the Student Achievement Council in our foundation report. And we endorsed the goal of increasing postsecondary enrollments. Our Achieve objective states:

Provide a high-caliber education and workforce development system geared to the demands of the 21st century.

• Expand access to postsecondary education that boosts career opportunity and supports economic growth.

• Ensure all students graduate from high school career- and college-ready.

• Drive interest and performance in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) among K-12 students and increase access to postsecondary STEM programs.

• Focus early learning assistance on children most at risk of entering kindergarten unprepared.

The Student Achievement Council’s report provides timely, useful information on what we need to do to achieve our goals of expanding opportunity and shared prosperity.