You may have heard that there’s now a 40-40-20 goal for the state of Oregon. The Legislative Assembly declared that the mission of all education beyond high school in Oregon includes achievement of the following by 2025 [ORS 351.009]:
- Ensure that at least 40 percent of adult Oregonians have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher.
- Ensure that at least 40 percent of adult Oregonians have earned an associate’s degree or post-secondary credential as their highest level of educational attainment.
- Ensure that the remaining 20 percent or less of all adult Oregonians have earned a high school diploma, an extended or modified high school diploma or the equivalent of a high school diploma as their highest level of educational attainment.
According to the 2010-12 American Community Survey we’re at about 27-8-25 right now in Oregon. So clearly, we’ve got some work to do.
In order to attain 40-40-20 there are two groups of people we really need to pay attention to: adults with less than a high school education and adults with only some college, because they fall outside the Bachelor’s-Associate’s-high school group. Unfortunately for 40-40-20 goal attainment, there are a lot of Oregon adults, at different stages of the lifespan, who have less than high school education and who only have some college. So we have to figure out if we should encourage all of them to increase their levels of education and how we might go about doing that.
Evidence for the Nugget:
- There are a lot of adults who aren’t in the Bachelor’s-Associate’s-high school group of 40-40-20. Between 2010 and 2012, according to the American
Community Survey (ACS),
- 11% of Oregon adults age 18+ (about 338,000 people) had less than high school education and
- 29% had some college (about 872,000 adults age 18+)
- So a total of about 1.2 million Oregonians
That’s a lot of people to be outside the desired education groups! So chances are the only way we’ll be able to make a dent in this as a state is for all of us involved in education to work together. And as Extension, we definitely will because we interact with adults across the lifespan – and targeting adults, particularly those 45 and over, is going to be key to this.
- As the chart below shows, about 50% of people with less than high school and some college are people age 45+, and people age 65+ make up a significant proportion of the total. (Click on the chart image to open a new window where it displays larger)
- As the chart below shows, just over 606,000 people age 45+ have less than high school or some college education, and in each education category we see that that there are significant numbers of adults in each age category. (Click on the chart image to open a new window where it displays larger)
Sorry folks, but this time around I don’t have lots of neat take-aways for you – just lots of questions. This exploration into Oregon’s people, places, and society is a real head-scratcher for me. Maybe for you too?
- How do we encourage adults between the ages of 25 and 64, who have less than high school or only some college education, to go back to school to get a GED or a post-secondary credential? Many of these folks are busy people – they work for pay outside the home, they work for no pay inside the home taking care of their children or other loved ones, they’ve got kids, and they’ve got established lives. Is increasing their level of education a priority to them? Should we encourage them to make it a priority? How?
- If we decide we do want to encourage people across the working-age life span to go back to school, are there going to be different approaches needed to encourage them to do so? What will those look like?
- Honestly, should we be striving to increase the educational attainment of adults age 65 and over? If so, how do we realistically encourage these older adults to go back to school and increase their level of education?
- Maybe the only real take-away I can offer is that we’re going to have to put our heads together on this one to reach the 40-40-20 goal. It might be worth some really concentrated effort among us in Extension, precisely because we do interact with a lot of people across the adult lifespan. How can we, Extension faculty and staff, help achieve the 40-40-20 goal?