Policies needed to meet 60 percent goal

Idaho won’t meet its 60 percent go-on goals by 2020 unless targeted, effective policies are put in place.

That was the major finding of new study paid for by Idaho Business for Education that examined Idaho’s education trends, immigration and demographics.

The Idaho State Board of Education, key state officials and IBE leaders are all behind the goal of having 60 percent of the state’s 25-34 year-olds earning a degree or certification for their careers by 2020.

The current rate of Idahoans earning an associate’s degree or higher is 35 percent – leaving a gap of 25 percent – according to the study and state data.

The report’s main author, Kevin Cahill of ECONorthwest, found that higher percentages of today’s 18-27 year-olds enrolled in and completing college now will likely bridge some of the 25 percent gap.

“Both factors mean that today’s 18 to 27 year olds will almost certainly achieve higher levels of educational attainment at ages 25 to 34 compared with today’s 25 to 34 year olds,” Cahill wrote in the seven-page report “To what extent will demographic changes help Idaho reach its educational attainment goals for 2020?”

But the study indicated higher college enrollment and high school graduation rates are only like to bridge 10 percent of the 25 percent gap.

Cahill and his three co-authors also looked at migration and the levels of education among people moving into and out of Idaho. They found U.S. Census Bureau data that indicate those moving into the Gem State had lower levels of education than the current population.

But, Cahill concluded that the size of the migrant and immigrant population was not large enough compared to the state’s population to make a meaningful difference by 2020.

“While the impact of migration unambiguously exerts downward pressure on the ability to achieve the 60 percent goal because of the different educational attainment levels of those leaving and entering the state, the overall magnitude of the impact appears to be small when it comes to addressing the question of Idaho’s educational preparedness by 2020,” the report states.

The report went on to conclude that policy changes will need to be instituted to bridge the rest of the gap to the 60 percent goal, but the study did not make any policy recommendations.

“The key takeaway is that demographic changes work in favor of reaching IBE’s 60 percent goal by 2020, but such changes cover less than half of the gap,” Cahill wrote. ”Targeted policies will be needed if Idaho is to achieve IBE’s 60 percent goal by 2020.”

Click the link to read the full IBE/ ECONorthwest 60percent goal study.