Outside the Box


What's it take to be a 'Top 10 Educated State?'

Posted March 15

Gov. Roy Cooper

Gov. Roy Cooper, in his State of the State address and budget proposal, says he wants to make North Carolina a “top 10 educated state by 2025.” Just what does that mean and how far does the state need to go to get there?

Cooper’s pointed to three specific goals: increasing enrollment of four-year-olds in pre-kindergarten from 22 percent to 55 percent; improving the high school graduation rate from 85.6 percent to 91 percent; and increasing the percentage of adults with higher education degrees (minimum of a community college associates’ degree) from 38.7 percent to 55 percent.

But where does North Carolina rank today – and how far a climb is it for North Carolina to be ranked in the top 10 in those three areas:

The National Institute for Early Education, in “The State of Preschool 2015” report ranked North Carolina 24th in access for 4-year olds to pre-k classes. Among the states North Carolina will need to pass to get into the top 10 are New Jersey, Maine, South Carolina and Texas – which is ranked 10th.

North Carolina’s high school graduation rate is currently 16th in the nation, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Connecticut currently ranks tenth.

When it comes to higher education, the U.S. Census American Communities Survey has North Carolina currently ranked 26th in percent of those with a community college degree or higher. New Jersey is currently 10th while Virginia is 9th.


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