In Massachusetts, 53.7% of young adults, age 25-34, have earned an associate degree or higher. This is well above the national average of 41.1% and more than the other 49 states, according to a recently released progress report from the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center. (The College Completion Agenda 2011 / Executive Summary.) Yet that’s still not enough to fulfill the future workforce needs of the state’s economy, says Higher Education Commissioner Richard Freeland.
At a State House event announcing the results of the report, Freeland said that 68% of the commonwealth’s jobs in 2018 will require a college degree. “Brain power is what we have,” Freeland said, according to State House News Service. “As proud as we are, we have a long way to go before we are where we need to be.”
The College Board has warned that the educational attainment of young adults in the U.S. is falling behind other countries. “The growing education deficit is no less a threat to our nation’s long-term well-being than the current fiscal crisis,” College Board President Gaston Caperton said at the time. “To improve our college completion rates, we must think ‘P-16’ and improve education from preschool through higher education.”
The first item on the board’s 10-point action agenda is high-quality early education, particularly for children from low-income families. In its 2011 progress report, the College Board recommends: “Provide a program of voluntary preschool education, universally available to children from low-income families so that all children at or below 200% of the poverty line have a chance to enter school ready to learn.” The 2011 progress report notes that 47.5% of 3- and 4-year-olds were enrolled in preschool in 2008, up slightly from 46% a year earlier.
In addition to Freeland, State House News reports that Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray; Commissioner Sherri Killins of the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care; Commissioner Mitchell Chester of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education; Senator Michael Moore (D-Millbury), co-chair of the Joint Committee on Higher Education; Senator Richard Moore (D-Uxbridge); and Richard Doherty, president of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, attended the State House event.