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Report Says Washington State Needs To Help More Students Earn Postsecondary Degrees

Kyle Stokes

It’s graduation season, and that means high school seniors have reached a significant milestone. But a new report says not enough of them in Washington state are going on to postsecondary education.

The Washington Roundtable, an organization of employers in the state, including Boeing, Paccar and Alaska Airlines, has just published a new report tracking the state’s progress in increasing the number of high school students who go on to earn some sort of post high school degree or credential.

Steve Mullin, president of the roundtable, said there has been progress in recent years, mostly because high school graduation rates have climbed.

“Unfortunately we’re quite low relative to many other states in terms of the percentage of those high school graduates who enroll immediately in any sort of a postsecondary education opportunity,” he said.

For example, Massachusetts has a much higher percentage of high school graduates who start a postsecondary education program right away.

Mullin said with so many booming industries in the state, including technology, kids who grow up here need to be able to compete for those jobs. A credential or degree is key, he said.

“It’s going to lead to two things – higher pay and higher pay opportunities over the course of your career,” Mullin said.

He said the state needs to invest in more financial aid programs and wraparound services for students who may be the first in their family to go to college.

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.