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Report: Kentucky's College Degree Attainment Rate Is 'Low Across The Board'

college diploma
U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Airman 1st Class Trevor Rhynes
During the spring Community College of the Air Force graduation, 310 Airmen recieved their CCAF, May 3, 2013, Ramstein Air Base, Germany. This class is the largest class to graduate on Ramstein. Airmen receiving degrees. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Airman 1st Class Trevor Rhynes)

A new report from progressive nonprofit The Education Trust studied degree attainment among Latino, black and white adults in the country.

The report analyzed data of black, Latino and white adults between the ages of 25-64 who have completed an associate degree or higher. The report measured degree attainment, the change in degree attainment since the year 2000, and attainment gaps between blacks and whites, and Latinos and whites.

Andrew Nichols, director of higher education research and data analytics at the Education Trust, says there’s plenty of room for improvement in Kentucky. The state was given a D- for it’s black attainment rate. However, Kentucky earned a B- for the change in black degree attainment since 2000.

“The state actually has low gaps between black and white and Latino and white adults,” Nichols said. “But this isn’t necessarily a good thing because the gap being small is really a byproduct of low attainment levels for white adults. Because attainment in Kentucky is pretty low across the board.”

Kentucky was given a B- from the trust on Latino degree attainment and for change in Latino degree attainment since the year 2000.

“The degree attainment in Kentucky is somewhat higher for Latino adults than the national average,” said Oliver Schak, policy and research associate for higher education at the Education Trust. “About 24 percent of Latino adults have at least an associate degree."

According to Census data, the attainment for Kentuckians with a bachelor’s or higher is just under 23 percent.

The Education Trust report says measuring degree attainment is important because generally, unemployment rates are lower and wages are higher for people with degrees.
"Compared with high school graduates with no college degree, bachelor’s degree completers (with no graduate-level training) are nearly two times less likely to be unemployed and earn nearly $25,000 more annually."
“There’s just a lot of research around how education benefits individuals but it also benefits the larger society as well,” said Nichols. 

Roxanne Scott covers education for WFPL News.