Sorry folks, I’m still on the 40-40-20 kick. I’m working on a project to put outcome based planning into action and 40-40-20 is the outcome of the day.

So if we want to achieve 40-40-20 (recall that’s 40% of Oregon adults with a Bachelor’s degree, 40% with an Associate’s degree or post-secondary credential, and 20% with High School), it would be good to know if there are any places in Oregon that are coming close to achieving that so we can use them as models for replication elsewhere.


Nugget2The nugget:

I looked at data from the American Community Survey (ACS) across all counties and towns in Oregon, for the 2007-2011 period and found only one that was at 40-40-20: Tetherow, OR at 48-52-0. A tiny (45 people), affluent, resort community outside of Bend, where all the employed adults work as management professionals in the education, health, and social service industry.

Tetherow may be a town to learn from, but it may be a bit of an extreme example of the conditions for 40-40-20. Let’s relax our demands and look for counties and towns that come close to achieving parts of the 40-40-20 goal.


Model Counties

Bachelor’s 40% goal

  • There is one county that is at or above 40% with a Bachelor’s degree or more: Benton County – it’s at 47-7-16. Go Beavs!Evidence

Associate’s 40% goal (I can only look at the percent with an Associate’s degree because the ACS does not provide estimates of the number of people who have any other type of less than 4-year, post-secondary credential)

  • There are no counties that come close to 40% of adults with an Associate’s degree, but Sherman County was the highest, at 14% — it’s at 16-14-28, followed by Josephine, Deschutes, and Gilliam. An interesting mix of non-metropolitan and newer metropolitan counties, all with higher than average employment in construction, extraction, and maintenance occupations.

High School 20% goal

  • Five metropolitan counties hover around the 20% goal for adults with high school education:
    • Benton (47-7-16)
    • Clackamas (31-8-24)
    • Deschutes (29-10-24)
    • Multnomah (38-7-21)
    • Washington (39-8-19)

Model Towns

Bachelor’s 40% goal

  • 42 (11%) of the 372 towns in Oregon recognized by the Census Bureau have 40% or more adults with a Bachelor’s degree or more. You can access that list here: Townsw40BS. These towns are our big cities, are very closely adjacent to our big cities, or are amenity destinations high in second-home ownership.

Associate’s 40% goal

  • There are two towns in which 40% or more of adults have an Associate’s degree: Tetherow and Wamic (which is also a very small resort community, in Wasco County)
  • There are six towns that are one standard deviation unit above average in the percent of adults with an Associate’s degree:
    1. Tetherow (48-52-0)
    2. Wallowa Lake (55-26-18)
    3. Sunriver (50-22-4)
    4. Neskowin (45-21-19)
    5. Adair Village (46-16-16)
    6. Camp Sherman (61-15-14)

These towns all share some characteristics as well. They’re small and either associated with high-value natural amenities and vacation rentals or adjacent to affluent communities.

High School 20% goal

  • There are 56 towns that hover around the 20% goal for adults with high school education (have between 16% and 24% of adults with high school). You can access that list by clicking here: Townsw20.

Take-awayThe take-aways:

  • These findings suggest that there are certain types of local conditions associated with the 40-40-20 educational outcomes: natural resource amenities, affluence, adjacency to metropolitan areas, and maybe others that you’ve thought of as you read the lists.
    • Though we can’t do much about the availability of natural resource amenities across all parts of the state there may be attributes of the economies or culture of these areas that can be replicated. How would implementing those conditions affect existing populations and their qualities of life? How might we play a role identifying or trying to create these conditions? What additional data might we need about these communities?
  • The findings also illustrate that there may be some difficulty ahead in achieving the 40% with an Associate’s degree or post-secondary credential goal.
    • Very few communities have attained it and we don’t have a reputable, consistent source of data about the number of Oregon adults with a short-duration post-secondary credential.  This demonstrates the importance of setting goals for program planning that are measureable and attainable – a key lesson for outcome-based, data-driven planning.
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5 thoughts on “Are you out there, 40-40-20?

  1. Hey Lena, great info as always. Any way to overlay migration data on this? My gut tells me that a lot of the degrees in the places you identified were imported rather than being earned by native Oregonians. It would also be interesting to look outside of Oregon for any other states or communities that have achieved 40-40-20. What is the total population number you’re using for the percentages (adults over 25?). How many people need to achieve each of these levels to meet the goal? It would also be interesting to look at a line chart of the data for Oregon over time–are we getting any closer? How has education level in Oregon changed over time? I think we’re currently closer to 29-27-33 (2010 data from ODE should post a “ticker” on their website to show our current progress toward this goal.

    • Thanks for your comments, Patti!
      Though I share your hunch that the highly educated people in the towns of Wamic, Tetherow, Wallowa Lake, etc. were probably not born and raised in those towns, we have no way to test that with migration data. We just don’t have data about that, especially for towns that small.

      I like your idea to look outside of Oregon for states or communities that are at 40-40-20. That would be a nice next step for a policy adviser.

      Regarding the population number I’m using in the denominator — Yes, adults age 25+. As I eluded to in my earlier post about 40-40-20 it might not be wise to keep the population this broad. In fact, the OEIB and others at the state appear to be leaning toward a 25-64 population for the denominator. The language of the 40-40-20 goal statement does not reflect that yet, however. It simply refers to adults.

      Finally, thank you for bringing up the estimate of goal attainment from the OR Educational Investment Board (OEIB) in that report PDF. The way they measured attainment of 40-40-20 is inconsistent with the goal language of 40-40-20. They are including people with some college in the Associate’s or post-secondary credential category (this is the only major discrepancy between the way I measure it and they do — the fact that I use people 25+ and they use people 25-64 in the denominator explains a minuscule portion of the discrepancy). People with some college and people with an Associate’s are not the same people. Entering and not completing a 1, 2, or 4 year degree program is not the same thing as degree/credential completion. The two types of education levels do not signal the same thing to a potential employer. I find it very odd that the way OEIB is measuring goal attainment is so inconsistent with the language of the goal. Thank you for seeing this and bringing it up.

  2. The use of 40-40-20 has always seemed confusing to me, in particular the “20% high school” goal. What is really meant is not that 20% of the population graduates high school (this would be dismal), but that 100% of the population graduates high school, AND that 20% of those high school graduates stop there and do not go on to higher education. Right?

    So in that case it seems to me that simply looking at which communities are close to the 20% high school goal doesn’t really tell the whole story. If you look at the 56 towns on your spreadsheet they actually have very different outcomes with respect to total high school graduation rates (assuming that the people with 2-year and 4-year degrees also graduated high school). They range from 100% in Wallowa Lake to 30% in Nesika Beach

    Please correct me if there is something wrong with my logic.

    • Right, Amy, the 20% with high school goal is a bit confusing. That’s why I didn’t just look for all the towns that had more than 20% with high school. The idea behind 40-40-20 is that 100% of adult Oregonians will have at least a high school education. 20% will stop there, and 80% will have either a 2 or 4 year degree.

      I completely agree, that looking only at the towns that are close to the 20% with high school aspect of the goal doesn’t really tell the whole story. I hope it doesn’t look like I’m trying to make it tell the whole story!

      But maybe you are also making a larger point here that the high school 20% part of the equation is not relevant or not as important to the achievement of 40-40-20? I’d disagree here, for reasons of diversity and feasibility but I’m not sure if that’s the point you’re trying to make.

      • Thanks Lena…the point I was trying to make is that I don’t think the 20% high school metric can be considered in isolation without the other two percentages. For example let’s take two towns on your list that look the same in terms of the 20% goal…Cedar Hills and Nesika Beach. Both are at 20% for high school, but that 20% is only people who graduated high school but didn’t go on to higher ed. But when you look at the equations, Cedar Hills is 47-6-20 (a 73% high school graduation rate) while Nesika Beach is 10-0-20 (a 30% percent grad rate). To me that means looking at the equation as a whole rather than its disparate parts, and that a simple 20% “goal” for high school is misleading.

        Another approach would be to think not in terms of 40-40-20, but instead 40-80-100. 40% have a 4-year degree or higher, 80% have a 2-year degree or higher, and 100% have a high school diploma.

        Thanks for stimulating us to think about these things.


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