More Hawaiʻi Residents Hold College Degrees

October 28, 2019, 10:13 AM HST (Updated October 28, 2019, 10:13 AM)
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Hawaiʻi continues to make progress toward its goal of having 55 percent of working age adults (ages 25-64) with a two-or four-year college degree by the year 2025 to meet the state’s workforce needs of the future.

The current percent of college degree holders in Hawaiʻi is 46.3 percent, up 1.4% from 2017. The 55 by ’25 goal was set in 2008 by the Hawaiʻi P–20 Council, an advisory council representing leaders from education, business, labor, government and the community.

With six years remaining to reach 55 by ’25 Hawaiʻi P–20 recently launched a new dashboard to highlight leading indicators of success that are contributing to the state’s educational goal. Metrics are evidence-based, updated annually and predictive of a student’s future success in Hawaiʻi, according to a press release from University of Hawai‘i.

“We chose metrics that clearly communicate that meeting this end goal (55 by ’25) is not possible without the various stakeholders doing their part to achieve our interim measures,” said Stephen Schatz, Hawaiʻi P–20 executive director. “While we have a ways to go, this dashboard demonstrates real progress in Hawaiʻi.”

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Progress is being made in multiple areas. Along with increases in high school graduation, college enrollment rates and degrees earned, more students graduating high school are enrolling directly into postsecondary education without the need for remediation. An increased number of freshmen are persisting from their first year in college to the next, and more underrepresented students, particularly Native Hawaiians, are enrolling in college and earning degrees.

“We’re moving in the right direction,” said UH President David Lassner. “Our 10 campuses are graduating more students faster and awarding more degrees than ever before. And our retention rates continue to improve. We see more opportunities in increasing the number of first-time freshmen who attend a UH campus and encouraging adults who have earned some college credits to return and complete their degrees. This doesn’t just happen by itself; these positive outcomes are a credit to people at the UH System and across our campuses deploying and using analytics to implement programs that make a difference for students.”

Department of Education Superintendent Christina Kishimoto said the metrics show their efforts are raising student achievement statewide.

“The increase in graduation rates and college enrollment rates over the last 10 years highlight the department’s commitment to ensure more of our students are academically prepared and graduating college and career ready,” Kishimoto said.

In order to increase economic opportunity and social mobility within the state, Hawaiʻi will not only have to maintain current rates of attainment, but also significantly increase the number of residents who enroll in postsecondary programs and earn all types of credentials beyond high school.

“Building the educational capital of the state is a critical need to meet our growing workforce demands,” said Sherry Menor-McNamara, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Hawaiʻi. “We’re calling on our local businesses to get more involved in providing students with more quality work-based learning opportunities such as internships and apprenticeships and creating incentives for their employees to further their education as well.”

The Hawaiʻi P–20 Council has identified three areas of focus to help reach the 55 by ’25 goal including providing more internship opportunities for students, increasing the number of returning adults going back to college and gaining additional funding for UH’s Hawaiʻi Promise Program.

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