April 21, 2024 2:30 am

Local News

Poll: Strong majority in AZ values postsecondary education

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Alex Gonzalez, Producer

A new poll finds in Arizona, an overwhelming majority believes increasing the number of adults with college degrees, certificates, and credentials would help many people reach a better quality of life and prevent economic hardships.

Rich Nickel is the president and CEO of Education Forward Arizona, the group that commissioned the poll.

He said most Arizonans support the Achieve60AZ goal of at least 60% of working-age adults completing education beyond high school by the year 2030.

“So what that means is, for the state to reach that goal,” said Nickel, “we need to produce about 500,000 new degrees, certificates, and credentials over the next six years or so.”

Nickel said currently, the state is hurtling toward what he calls an “attainment cliff” — with fewer than half of Arizona students continuing their education after high school.

But he called it remarkable that 86% of Arizona voters across the spectrum support the Achieve60AZ goal – and encouraged policymakers to view education as a solution, not a problem, in their funding decisions.

Nickel said over 90% of Arizona voters support what he calls “practical policy suggestions.”

These include expanding access to technical training and higher-ed pathways during high school that can lead to a credential, and more dual-enrollment options that allow teens to earn college credit.

“Because it is going to give students, number one, the belief that they can do postsecondary work,” said Nickel, “but also give them a head start on those important credits — which, in the end, help make postsecondary education more affordable, because it’s less time to the degree.”

Nickel added there also are benefits for Arizona’s economy.

His group found increasing the number of people who continue their education beyond high school by 20% would result in an additional $5 billion a year to the state’s economy.

Nickel said his group has put together the Arizona Education Progress Meter — a tool to show what it will take to reach the Achieve60AZ goal, based on eight indicators.

“We’ve set out where we should be if we want to be competitive nationally, as far as the goals,” said Nickel. “And then, we also keep track on a yearly basis where we actually are. If you were to look at those metrics, we are not where we need to be.”

This story is republished from Public News Service under a Creative Commons license. Read the original story.