New Higher Ed Equity Report Released – How did Kentucky fare?
New Report shows postsecondary attainment gaps – Kentucky is making progress.
A new report released today by the Education Trust – a national non-profit focused on equity in education – brings into sharp relief postsecondary attainment gaps between racial and ethnic groups at both the national and state levels. The report specifically ranks and grades states based on the attainment levels of Black and Latino populations and the magnitude of the attainment gap between these groups and the White population.
So how did Kentucky fare in this analysis?
For the Black population:
- 8% of working-age adults (25-64 years old) in Kentucky are Black.
- 3% of Black adults have an associate’s degree or higher compared to 34.3% of White adults.
- 34th out of 41 states analyzed in Black degree attainment – grading Kentucky at a D-.
- 15th out of 41 states analyzed for the percentage gain in Black degree attainment since 2000 – grading Kentucky at a B-. Kentucky saw a 9% gain.
- Attainment gap of 9% between Black and White adults, which ranks Kentucky 2nd lowest out of 41 states analyzed. Kentucky, in part, ranks better on this measure due to our overall population’s relatively low attainment, which is 44th for associate’s degrees or higher.
For the Latino population:
- 9% of working-age adults (25-64 years old) in Kentucky are Latino.
- 2% of Latino adults have an associate’s degree or higher compared to 34.3% of White adults.
- 13th out of 44 states analyzed in Latino degree attainment – grading Kentucky at a B-.
- 14th out of 44 states analyzed for the percentage gain in Latino degree attainment since 2000 – grading Kentucky at a B-. Kentucky saw a 6% gain.
- Attainment gap of 10.1% between Latino and White adults, which ranks Kentucky 2nd lowest out of 44 states analyzed. Kentucky, in part, ranks better on this measure due to our overall population’s relatively low attainment, which is 44th for associate’s degrees or higher.
How is Kentucky addressing these attainment gaps?
In general, Kentucky’s results mirror the nationwide problem with attainment gaps. These gaps clearly deserve intentional focus. Such focus is being demonstrated by Kentucky’s Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) as part of the 2016-2021 Strategic Agenda for Postsecondary and Adult Education.
This new strategic agenda sets a Big Goal of 60% of Kentucky’s adult population with a postsecondary degree or credential by 2030 and explicitly addresses the attainment gaps for under-represented minority and low-income populations. Specifically:
- CPE’s statewide Diversity Policy requires institutions to meet annual goals related to enrollment and success of under-represented minority and low income students, as well as faculty and staff diversity. Performance on these goals determines eligibility for new academic programs.
- The strategic agenda includes specific success metrics focused on increasing persistence and completion of under-represented minority and low-income students.
- The strategic agenda includes specific impact metrics focused on increasing the number of degrees and credentials awarded to under-represented minority and low-income students.
Additionally – and perhaps most importantly – the new, comprehensive funding formula for postsecondary education enacted in 2017 provides additional weights for degrees awarded to under-represented minority and low-income students. This is a powerful incentive for institutions to support the success of these populations. As the formula is reviewed in future years, these weights should be increased to incentivize closing the gaps even faster.
We must strive as a state to better ensure that each and every Kentuckian has access to affordable, high-quality postsecondary education that builds and maintains an educated citizenry and a talented, dynamic workforce. This is critical to help move Kentucky upward in educational attainment and closer to realizing our full educational, economic, workforce and civic potential.