Achieve60AZ releases first issue brief, continues mission of helping Arizonans attain post-secondary education

Achieve60AZ, a grassroots alliance with the goal of getting 60 percent of adults to hold either a degree, license or certificate by 2030, released its first issue brief paving the groundwork towards achieving their goal.

In the brief the organization outlined its State Attainment Pillars, which they described as four areas that will need to align efforts and resources to help the state reach the 60 percent goal.

The four pillars are:

  1.     Workforce and Business Development:
  • Attract businesses to Arizona with well-educated and highly skilled workers and jobs
  • Promote businesses with proven success in fostering certificates and degrees among employees      
  • Develop and expand partnerships between industry and educational providers to align current and future workforce needs
  1.     Postsecondary Access and Success:
  • Work collaboratively to address barriers to credential and degree completion through policies and innovation
  • Ensure pathways and options for education beyond high school are available to all
  • Champion strategies to make postsecondary educational options more affordable
  1.     Early Childhood through High School:
  • Emphasize high school graduation and promote best practices for certificate, college and career readiness
  • Support students through a pathway to progress to certificates, college and career
  1.     Systems and Structures:
  • Utilize metrics and data systems to support thoughtful partnerships and collaboration in pursuit of the 60 percent post high school attainment goal
  • Increase public awareness about the options and value of pathways for education beyond high school.

“We are excited to present this information to education stakeholders, government officials, and Arizona businesses,” Rachel Yanof, Executive Director of Achieve60AZ, said in a statement. “Reaching our goal will require collaboration and we hope this Issue Brief and ongoing communication will help people and organizations see themselves and their critical role in the work to achieve this goal.”

According to College Success Arizona President and CEO Rich Nickel, who also serves on the Achieve60AZ Board of Directors, there’s a certain science and art to setting an attainment goal that works.

“I think that it’s kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy in some ways. You have to set the goal to get there and by setting the goal, people start doing things in pursuit of the goal,” he said. “This type of pillaring [is] going to be helpful in that [it’s] both a continuum of perspective and also helps people understand where they may be able to be a participant or impactful.”

But this is just the first step of many.

Over the next year, Achieve60AZ will continue releasing issue briefs that outline what it takes for Arizona to be a top attainment state – in future briefs the organization will dive further into each of the pillars.

“We want to make sure that decision-makers have the most accurate data and information about attainment,” Breanne Bushu, Director of Communications and Policy for Achieve60AZ said.

According to an Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) 2018 College Enrollment and Completion report, less than half of Arizona’s high school graduating class enrolled in a two- or four-year college after graduation in 2017. However, it’s predicted that roughly 70 percent of jobs coming to the state require some sort of post-secondary education or training.

“We know that attainment, the amount of people that hold a high value credential, a certificate, associate degree, bachelor’s degree, has a massive economic upside to the state of Arizona,” said Nickel. “We also know that moving forward we are going to have to have a more educated and more highly skilled populous to be able to enjoy some of the great opportunities that our development seekers are bringing to the state of Arizona every day.”

He added that people who are highly skilled or have more education are less likely to use public services, costing the state less money.

Nickel says he believes Arizona will achieve the 60 percent goal, but even if they don’t, any progress helps improve the state.

“Even if we don’t reach the goal, the efforts that have been produced, the byproducts of trying to reach the goal will increase our attainment rate by margins that will still pump billions of dollars into our state’s economy. [Achieve60AZ] is acting as this terrific catalyst for engagement, for strategy, for action, it’s giving people something to look at to say that’s where we want to be and it’s driving a lot of activity,” he said.  

To view the full policy brief click here.

Emily Richardson

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