Tuesday, February 2, 2016


The Idaho State Board of Education established what's known as the "60% goal" in 2010. The language of the goal is:

"Sixty percent of Idahoans between the ages of 25-34 will have a 
post-secondary degree or a certificate of value by the year 2020."

According to the State Board President, Emma Atchley, (in the SBOE publication "The Facts 2015") "Since that time, our state has seen a 5 percentage point increase toward the goal. Last year, 42 percent of Idahoans in that age range had degrees or certificates."

It's interesting to consider the State Board's goal in light of job projections made by the Idaho Department of Labor. The Department has an interesting  publication entitled "Projections of Idaho Jobs by Industry and Occupation 2012-2022" which provides detailed information about their forecasting. Here's a slide from the publication:

Note that the Department of Labor projections predict that 27% of jobs will require a bachelor's degree or higher (18% BA, 7% MA, 3% doctoral or professional degree), while 32% will require an Associate's degree or some college (9% Associate's degree, 23% some college). That's a total of roughly 60% of jobs that will require some college experience or more.

State Board officials explained the difference in the Board's goal by saying "We are not counting some college as an outcome that counts toward the goal. That category is very hard to quantify because it's difficult to determine how much college is sufficient. Because the certificates are tied into that same college category (and are quantifiable) that's the only part of the group that the Board is counting."

The explanation makes sense, because it would be extremely difficult to determine which students took only one class or one semester, and which others were engaged in a full-time major over several years.

However, it's interesting to look at the difference it makes when we count "some college, no degree" as part of the SBOE goal. For example, the class of 2008 is now seven years out of high school. We estimate the high school graduation rate at Boise High School as about 93% (using the new federal rules for high school grad rate). Approximately 51% of those entering college have graduated with a BA, MA, or a certificate. Thus, Boise's college grad rate for the class of 2008 under the State Board goal is 47% thus far.

However, if we use the "some college, no degree" definition from the Department of Labor's 
projections, Boise's total percentage of students who have a BA, AA, certificate or some college for the class of 2008 is 83.6%. Multiplying by the high school grad rates of 92.3%, we come up with a percentage of 78% thus far for that class, far higher than the 60% SBOE goal.

It seems that some consideration should be given to the portion of the population that has attended college for a particular amount of time, or perhaps accumulated a certain number of credits in a field, but not graduated, in terms of the SBOE goal. There are hundreds of students in our database who have attended for two or more years, but not gotten a degree.

Just as example, here are the data for the four Boise comprehensive high schools, including the "some college, no degree" category:

Boise High School - 78%
Borah High School - 64%
Capital High School - 71%
Timberline High School - 77%