Overall things are going in the right direction, but there’s a lot of work left to do.
That’s the big takeaway from a new report issued by St. Louis Graduates, a coalition of local stakeholders with the goal of increasing access to education opportunities after high school.
The report found that between 2007 and 2010 the St. Louis region had the largest percentage point increase in postsecondary degree completion among the 35 largest metro areas in the country. The region moved up three places, from 25 to 22, with almost 38 percent of people in the St. Louis metro area having postsecondary degrees.
University of Missouri St. Louis Professor of Political Science, Terry Jones, says the group’s goal is to have 50 percent of adults having a postsecondary degree by 2020.
“In setting a goal you look to see which metropolitan areas are doing the best job, what level they have achieved,” Jones says. “As of 2010, four of those metropolitan areas were at or above 50 percent. They have been able to do it that means we can do it.”
But drill down into the data and findings also show that some students continue to face big hurdles.
“Some long-held disparities continue to plague us,” says Faith Sandler, who co-chairs St. Louis Graduates. “There are differences in outcomes by race and geography within in the St. Louis region that need to be addressed.”
Sandler says it will take a community wide effort to ensure all students have access to education after high school, and that they've assembled a big consortium of stakeholders that's up to the task.
“This is a collaborative that has moved the needle and can continue to do so,” Sandler says.
She says they’re engaged in ongoing training to help academic professionals develop the kind of nuanced skill set it takes to open doors for a diverse group of students.
The complete report and online tools can be found here.
Follow Tim Lloyd on Twitter: @TimSLloyd