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Report: AR near bottom in number of adults with post-high school credentials

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(Public News Service) – New data show how many people pursue degrees or other credentials after high school, and the numbers show Arkansas has some work to do to improve.

The Lumina Foundation tracks higher education attainment, and said 60% of working-age adults should be earning some kind of post-high-school degree. Right now, the number is just over 42% in the Natural State and just over 54% nationwide.

Courtney Brown, vice president of strategic impact and planning for Lumina Foundation, said Arkansas is making progress. In the last year, degree attainment is up.

“We moved from 38.1% When we began to 54.3%,” Brown reported. “That represents a 16 percentage point increase in just 14 years. And that’s a collective commitment and dedication to education from partners all across the country.”

Brown added 42 states along with Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico saw an uptick in degree attainment last year, 19 of which achieved an increase of more than 1%. Arkansas has a goal to reach 55% of adults with a degree or certificate by 2030.

The report showed more than 38% of white Arkansans have college degrees, compared to more than 26% of Black residents and 17% of Hispanics. Brown noted an equity gap remains in Arkansas and across the country.

“The problem we’re seeing is that while everyone is increasing, the gap stays the same,” Brown pointed out. “We really have to put our efforts toward how can we ensure that Native Americans and Hispanics and Latinos and Black Americans can increase attainment so that we’re all at that higher attainment rate.”

Brown added nationwide, just over 10% of Black Americans had a graduate degree in the most recent data, from 2022. Back in 2009, the figure was only 6%.