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Statewide educational attainment continues to grow

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DENVER, CO, May 4, 2021 - The Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE) today announced the statewide postsecondary educational attainment rate is 61%.

This year, CDHE shifted methodology from previous years to align with Lumina Foundation's A Stronger Nation: Learning Beyond High School Builds American Talent tool. The tool uses a similar methodology from previous years but includes a wider age range and a more accurate estimate of short-term credential attainment in Colorado. According to the tool, Colorado's attainment rate increased from 59.8% in 2019 to 61% in 2020, measured by the percent of adults ages 25-64 who have earned a credential beyond a high school diploma. The new data also show promising gains among Coloradans of color.  

"This shift to Lumina's methodology provides us with an easier state-by-state comparison and a clearer picture of those acquiring short-term credentials in Colorado," said Dr. Angie Paccione, executive director of CDHE. "It also allows us to dive deeper into our equity gaps and compare educational levels across states among five racial and ethnic groups."
In late 2017, the Colorado Commission on Higher Education released a strategic plan, Colorado Rises, which reaffirmed a 66% statewide attainment goal by 2025. The plan emphasizes increasing student completion and erasing equity gaps for African American or Black; Hispanic or Latinx, and American Indian and Alaska Native students as key strategies to boost postsecondary success.
Colorado has significant gaps in educational attainment when measured by race and ethnicity. When compared to the statewide attainment goal of 66%, the following racial and ethnic disparities exist:

  • African American or Black – 37.9% attainment rate (a gap of 28.1%) 
  • American Indian – 30.9% attainment rate (a gap of 35.1%) 
  • Hispanic or Latinx – 25.1% attainment rate (a gap of 40.9%) 

Lumina Foundation updated its national and state reports on attainment for adults ranging in age from 25 to 64, showing an increase in Colorado from 59.8% to 61%. Although this rate is among the highest in the country and 9% higher than the national figure—51.9%, according to Lumina Foundation—Colorado has some of the largest disparities in higher education equity by race.