There are many family-sustainable jobs available in Texas, but not enough college-educated Texans to fill them. In the Lone Star State, that’s called “all hat and no cattle.”
Though Texas boasts the 14th largest economy in the world, only 32 percent of its 25-34 years olds have obtained an associate’s degree or higher. That’s a full 10 percentage points behind the national average. When compared to globally competitive economies, the Lone Star State’s rate of educational attainment ranks 24th. To balance its demand-side heavy, supply-side weak employment structure, Texas can increase middle and high school rigor, to increase completion rates for higher education programs that prepare students for family-sustainable careers. And it would be wise to do so soon.
According to the Center on Education and the Workforce, two out of every three jobs will require some form of higher education within the next five years. If Texas cannot produce a higher percentage of its population able to fill this demand, businesses, including the state’s 52 Fortune 500 Companies, may begin to look elsewhere for future employees. Preparing more students to succeed in, and ultimately complete, higher education can help ensure businesses continue relocating to - and not out of - Texas.
An analysis by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board of completion rates for students enrolled in a four- year Texas university beginning in 2008 found:
- Only 38 percent of first-time college students who did not meet the Texas Success Initiative (TSI) standard in math successfully completed a college-level math course within three years.
- 64.7 percent of first-time students who were underprepared in reading completed a college-level reading course within three years.
- 60.1 percent of first-time students who were underprepared in writing completed a college-level writing course within three years.
The same analysis also found that a lack of preparation for higher education is especially detrimental to Texas’ minority populations. While Texas should be proud that its African-American population has increased participation in higher education by 2.7 percent since 2000 – the highest of the state’s major racial/ethnic groups – the state must work to improve completion rates among its minority populations. The goal should not be just getting students to college; it should be preparing students to complete a higher education program that leads to a family-sustainable career.
Over a two-year period, persistence rates (staying in college) dropped 2 percentage points’ for Hispanics and 1.9 points for African-Americans attending a Texas university. This, in part, explains Texas’ major gaps in graduation rates with regards to demographics: 52.5 percent African American, 65.7 percent Hispanic, 76.1 percent white, and 84.3 percent Asian. If demographics are not to determine destiny, they must not impact college completion.
Texas should look beyond high school graduation and focus on implementing rigorous standards that equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to complete higher education programs that prepare them for a family sustainable career. It is an “all hat and all cattle” approach to education that will benefit students, employers, tax-payers and the entire Lone Star State.
Texas is open for business. Rigorous college preparedness that increases completion rates for higher education programs that prepare students for family-sustainable careers can keep it that way.
Image by Ray Bodden
State of Our Cities: Mastering Math Can Help San Diego Become the Finest City
New "State of Our Cities" tool shows how students in San Diego are performing -- and where challenges lie ahead.
The Global Picture: International Benchmarks Matter in Today’s World
Global marketplaces make the world smaller – and that fact puts a new onus on educators in every country. Their students must now learn in a way that prepares them for jobs that peers living in Berlin, Calcutta, and Seoul, as well as Albuquerque, Chicago, and Boston, may want for themselves. Navigating the competitive nature of the world’s economy can be overwhelming and tiresome, but that reality is not going away. As Americans we simply can’t hunker down within our borders. That’s why knowing whether our schools are producing students who are literate, think critically, and are able to solve problems takes on a new urgency. We need to know how well our students are doing both at home but also in relationship to students around the world. Data from the Global Report Card, which is contained in the State of Our Cities report, provides a way to make those comparisons. The Global Report Card compares data from state achievement tests and the National Asse
Why the Movers and Shakers in Cities Should Use the New State of Our Cities Report
The new State of Our Cities report, released today at a mayors’ roundtable at the Bush Center, is a comparative tool prepared by the Bush Institute to help leaders (and average citizens, for that matter) make sense of city level education data.
Looking for Education in the 2016 Election
Surprisingly, substantive debate about education in grades K-12 has largely been absent from this year’s presidential election. Whatever your thoughts about the 2016 nominees, the absence of discussion around education issues like knowing if students are on track to graduate from high school prepared for success in their post-secondary education is a concern for us all. Many of our major challenges, from race relations to greater economic growth to our global standing, connect to education. Candidates in past presidential elections certainly embraced education as a part of their campaigns. Consider the 1960 race between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, which came on the heels of Russia’s launch of Sputnik in 1957 and communism’s gathering momentum around the world. Facing a critical time, the candidates considered education an essential tool to solidify the U.S. position as a global leader. We needed enough engineers, scientists, and mathematicians to