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Monday, August 15, 2022

Washington State’s Education Shortfall 

The statistic about Washington state’s education shortfall was the topic at the Technology Alliance’s State of Technology Luncheon in downtown Seattle last Wednesday. Washington state consistently ranks at the bottom of states that send their kids to college. This is the case for both in or out of state. A goal was attached to changing that stat.

Seattle and Washington state alike is seen by many to be a big deal when it comes to the innovation economy. The region has a disproportionately large technology employment and R&D investment compared to many other states.

During the event, the statistic was broached and discussed. The 2021 version of Tech Alliance’s Benchmarking Reports offers a look at the data from the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems. It shows that 53% of Washington students go directly from high school to college, placing the state 46th. To get an idea through comparison, roughly 80% of students in Massachusetts go directly to higher education.

Some experts wonder how long can Seattle sit on top with such a stat. The state has a need for homegrown college grads which some believe is a key issue for talent-hungry tech companies. The statistic clearly surprised some at the event once it was explained.

Many experts have been looking at this stat for years. Most say that a number of factors can create this statistic. Together, those reasons seems to have  of a variety of issues that have created a weak college-going culture.

The event was a big deal that had some local education luminaries. Michelle Reid, superintendent of the Northshore School District, northeast of Seattle, said Washington state is 48th among all states in sending traditionally underrepresented students to post-secondary education.

“I think we have to stop thinking about this as a student issue. This is a system problem; there’s nothing wrong with our students,” Reid said, to applause. “Unless we can disrupt the system in significant ways, we will continue to put good people into the system who are not able to flourish, or have robust outcomes.”

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