Educational opportunity rises 80 percent since 1970

According to the Historical Report of Opportunity, released by Opportunity Nation and Measure of America, educational opportunity has escalated by 80 percent since 1970. The Report defines Educational Opportunity as the number of children in preschool, the number of high school students who graduate on time, and the number of adults with an associate’s degree or higher. Over the past four decades, Massachusetts improved the most; Nevada, the least.

Between 1970 and 2010, the number of 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in preschool increased by nearly four times, emphasizing the growing awareness of the benefits of early childhood education. Studies show that low-income children who attend high-quality preschool are more successful academically and more likely to graduate from high school and enroll in postsecondary education. Some states have cut funding for public pre-K, yet early childhood education continues to be a priority in many states.

Every state experienced growth in the percentage of adults aged 25 or older who obtained at least an associate’s degree. This indicates the changing global economy that requires higher levels of education of employees. During the four decades measured, Americans with at least an associates degree increased by 105 percent.

In 2013, 28 percent of children nationwide were enrolled in state-financed preschool. While 36.3 percent of Americans have at least an associate’s degree, economists predict that by 2020, two-thirds of American jobs will require some form of post-secondary degree or credential.

While Americans should be proud of the educational improvements our country has seen, we need to continue, or even pick up the pace to ensure people possess the skills required to build a powerful 21st-century workforce. This Report acts as a good reminder to value the importance of education as the pathway to many of life’s successes.

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