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

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.

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

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.

Three key headlines emerge:

  1. Washington’s high school graduation rate continued to improve.
  2. Projected postsecondary enrollment of high school graduates from the high school class of 2021 is down 10 percentage points compared to enrollment of the class of 2019.
  3. Projected postsecondary completion for high school graduates is up 1 point compared to the pre-pandemic level and 8 points compared to the class of 2006.

The way forward demands bold action from all of us. Read our latest report for key insights and a path toward progress.