JFAC focuses in on 60 percent goal

The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee’s “Education Week” began Monday morning with a few questions about the State Board of Education’s main goal: convincing 60 percent of Idahoans to pursue a postsecondary degree.

Don Soltman, State Board of Education

State Board president Don Soltman spoke about the 60 percent goal — and the state’s attempts to hit this ambitious benchmark by 2020. Currently, only about 35 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds have a postsecondary degree. (Click here to see Soltman’s PowerPoint presentation.)

Rep. Marc Gibbs, R-Grace, suggested the state could be “considerably closer” to hitting the 60 percent goal, since Idaho’s longitudinal data system doesn’t keep track of high school graduates who leave the state.

And Sen. Steve Vick, R-Dalton Gardens, questioned whether the 60 percent goal is even reasonable. Only the District of Columbia now hits that 60 percent threshold — and that, said Vick, may only reflect the preponderance of federal jobs in the district.

But Soltman maintained that the 60 percent goal is reasonable — citing a recent Georgetown University study, which concluded that by 2020, 68 percent of Idaho jobs will require some postsecondary education.

More reading: Here’s more from the State Board’s JFAC presentation, from Betsy Russell of the Spokane Spokesman-Review.

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