Arizona still lags in education The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

Arizona still lags in education

February 9th, 2021 Mesa Tribune Staff
Arizona still lags in education


Despite Mesa’s effort to diversify Arizona’s menu of higher-education options, the state still lags badly when it comes to educational attainment – including the percentage of  high school grads who go on to obtain a two- or four-year college diploma or a post-secondary certificate in a trade.

“Arizona is not moving the needle fast enough on high school graduates going to college,” according to a recent report by the Arizona Board of Regents.

That matters, the report said, because “educational attainment is a primary factor that impacts the quality of Arizona’s labor market and our ability to compete regionally and nationally for high-paying employers and jobs.”

Among the findings:

About 52 percent of Arizona’s 2018 high school graduates went on to a two- or four-year college within a year of graduating. Nationwide, that figure is 69 percent.

Of those enrolling in a four-year school, 68.4 percent of Arizona high school graduates do so at one of the state’s public universities.

Of those 2018 grads, about 29 percent enrolled in a four-year college or university.

Nationwide, about 37 percent of high school graduates complete a four-year degree within six years. In Arizona, that number for 2013 high school graduates was 22.4 percent, which nevertheless shows a steady increase from the 17.5 percent college-graduation rate shown by the high school class of 2005.

Nearly 50 percent of students in the top 10 percent of Arizona high schools (ranked by college attainment levels) completed college. Less than 10 percent of students from the bottom 60 percent of high schools did so.

“The 28.6 percent of Arizona high school graduates choosing to attend a four-year program is insufficient to replace the number of college degree-holders forecast to retire in the coming years,” the report said. “Unless Arizona rapidly improves its educational attainment, our state will be forced to continue relying upon in-migration from other states to fill positions that require a four-year degree.”

The 2020 Postsecondary Attainment Report is available online at the Arizona Board of Regents website.

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