Case Study: Chehalis Student Achievement Initiative

In 2013, the Chehalis School District and the Chehalis Foundation partnered to launch the Chehalis Student Achievement Initiative (SAI), an effort focused on improving student achievement, modernizing instructional practices, and preparing students for college and careers. The depth of community engagement and partnership has driven impressive gains over the initiative’s 10-year history. 

  • High school graduation: Graduation rate at W.F. West High School, the region’s one comprehensive public high school, rose from 77% in 2013 to 95% in 2023, far outdistancing the state graduation rate. 
  • College-ready diploma: The percentage of W.F. West High School graduates completing the high school credit requirements required for admission to the state’s public four-year colleges and universities increased from 38% in 2013 to 51% in 2023. 
  • Direct postsecondary enrollment: The percentage of W.F. West High School students enrolling in a postsecondary program the fall after high school graduation rose from 48% in 2013 to 62% in fall 2023. 

Learn more about what makes the district stand out in our new case study, which is part of our Credential is Essential series. 

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2024 Legislative Successes for WA Students

A family celebrating a graduate.

The 2024 legislative session wrapped up last week, and it resulted in several policy changes and investments that will support progress toward Partnership for Learning’s goal that 70% of Washington students, overall and within each racial and ethnic community, complete a credential after high school, such as a degree, apprenticeship, or industry-aligned certificate or license.

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Postsecondary enrollment plateaus – 51,000+ Fewer Students Enrolled Since Pandemic

A chart showing postsecondary enrollment trends in WA state.

 

After three years of steep declines, postsecondary enrollment in Washington is showing signs of recovery. According to data shared with Washington Roundtable by the state’s public postsecondary institutions, 51,000+ fewer students enrolled in our public institutions in fall 2023 than in fall 2019 – representing a 17% enrollment decline since the pandemic’s onset. This comes when postsecondary education is increasingly the only pathway to middle-class jobs.

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Path to 70 Update: Projected decline in credential attainment demands bold action

Bar graph showing the credential attainment rate trajectory over the last 15 years for Washington students.

 

In 2016, the Washington Roundtable set a goal: 70% of Washington students—overall and within each racial and ethnic community—will complete a postsecondary credential by age 26. This goal reflects the workforce needs of Washington employers and national and state data projecting that at least 70% of jobs in our state will be filled by workers who complete a postsecondary credential, such as a degree, apprenticeship, or industry-aligned certificate or license.

New data analysis indicates that nearly a third of the progress made toward the goal since the class of 2006 was wiped out during the pandemic. The estimated credential attainment rate for the high school class of 2021 is 40%—three percentage points lower than the class of 2019 and 30 points below the goal.

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New laws will support post-HS credential attainment

 

The 2023 legislative session resulted in several policy changes and investments that support Partnership for Learning’s goal that 70% of Washington students complete a credential after high school, such as a degree, apprenticeship, or industry-aligned certificate or license. New policies the legislature passed include:

  • Earning College Credit in High School:
    1. All costs will be covered for high school students taking College in the High School courses, for which they earn both college and high school credit. Students who earn college credit in high school are much more likely to go on to postsecondary education. This new law is a significant win for students and advancing progress toward increasing the post-high school education enrollment rate (SB 5048).
    2.  Students can now earn up to 10 college credits cost-free via Running Start courses during the summer (HB 1316).
  • Tuition Timing: Students will know the cost of tuition at Washington’s public colleges and universities for the upcoming academic year, allowing them to make better-informed enrollment decisions (SB 5079).
  • Student-level Data Sharing: Washington colleges and universities will be better able to support students’ transition from high school because of improved data sharing between OSPI and postsecondary institutions (SB 5593).
  • Improved Education and Career Planning: The state will adopt a universal digital platform for the High School and Beyond Plan to improve students’ access to tools and resources that enable career exploration, course planning, and preparation for post-high school education (SB 5243).
  • WSAC Regional Challenge Grants: The new state budget includes funding to continue grants that support regional partnerships aimed at increasing postsecondary enrollment and credential attainment.

Partnership for Learning worked closely with many important partners to support these policies, and we are grateful for the collaboration. As we seek to raise the rate at which Washington students enroll in and complete post-high school education, these new laws and investments can ease students’ experiences in the critical transition from high school to college and career training.

 

Learn more about our work and join us at www.credentialessential.com.

New report: Postsecondary enrollment declined for 3rd straight year

The crisis of stagnant or declining postsecondary enrollment – a concern even before the pandemic – is deepening at Washington’s public two- and four-year colleges and universities. According to data shared with the Washington Roundtable by the state’s public postsecondary institutions:

  • Fall 2022 enrollment of resident undergraduate students at Washington’s public four-year colleges and universities is down by nearly 10,000 students (11.3%) compared to pre-pandemic figures (fall 2019).
  • Preliminary data also indicate that enrollment across the state’s 34 community and technical colleges is down by could be down upwards of 60,000 students (an estimated decline of 26% or more).

The decline in postsecondary enrollment contrasts with the increasing economic need for credentialed workers in Washington state. From Nov. 2021 to Nov. 2022, employers added more than 130,000 jobs in Washington. That follows a decade of economic growth when a credential—such as a degree, apprenticeship, or certificate—had become essential for jobs that offer a good salary and advancement opportunities.

Read more about the picture of postsecondary enrollment in Washington in fall 2022 in our latest report. Meeting students where they are and improving the postsecondary credential attainment rate is critical to our state’s future. Join us.

Read the report

Path to 70 Update: Why Washingtonians Value Credentials But Aren’t Completing Them

Research in 2021 indicated that Washington would add 373,000 net new jobs over five years, at least 70% of which will be filled by workers with a postsecondary credential. It is vitally important—to our state’s future and our residents—that more Washingtonians pursue the credentials that fuel our workforce and our economy. Yet, postsecondary enrollment stagnated through much of the last decade and declined markedly during the pandemic.

As a state, we must better understand why more Washingtonians don’t pursue and complete the credentials they need to succeed in the job market.

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Student Pathway Success Stories at Avista

Energy Pathways is a four-week paid summer immersion opportunity developed by Spokane-area utility company Avista to introduce incoming high school juniors and seniors to the energy industry.

For Katelyn Bartel, now a student at Eastern Washington University, the internship was life changing.

“This really opened my eyes into what I could be doing with my life. It makes me more motivated when I go to school because I know that there’s something that I’m working towards. It gives me more of a goal.”




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Case study: The Promise of Automatic Admissions

Employers will create 373,000 net new jobs in Washington state by 2026. Seventy percent of these jobs are expected to require or be filled by workers with a post-high school credential, such as a degree, apprenticeship, or certificate. But our state is facing a crisis in credential attainment, with the pandemic further driving declines in postsecondary enrollment.

One promising strategy: Automatically admit students to reduce enrollment barriers.

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