DENVER, April 3, 2020: The Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE) today announced the statewide attainment rate increased from 56.9 percent in 2019 to 57.6 percent in 2020, measured by the number of adults ages 25-34 who have earned a credential beyond the high school diploma. The new data also show promising gains among Coloradans of color.
“We’re excited to see incremental improvements in our attainment rate,” said Dr. Angie Paccione, executive director for CDHE. “In order to meet our bold attainment goals as a state, we’re executing on a number of initiatives that save students money and expedite their credential attainment—Open Educational Resources, Supplemental Academic Instruction, wraparound services for Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiatives (COSI) scholars and our equity toolkit for faculty.”
In late 2017, the Colorado Commission on Higher Education released a strategic plan, Colorado Rises, which reaffirmed a 66 percent statewide attainment goal by 2025. The plan emphasizes increasing student completion and closing equity gaps for African American or Black; Latinx and Hispanic; 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. The share of Colorado’s white majority population that has earned a credential (64.2 percent) is more than twice that of Latinx and almost 1.5 times the share of African Americans or Black Coloradans.
In 2020, the following ethnic groups saw an increase in attainment:
Latinx attainment grew from 28.6 percent to 29.9 percent
African American or Black attainment grew from 40.3 percent to 41.3 percent
American Indian and Alaska Native attainment decreased from 33.2 percent to 29.9 percent. Attainment rates among this group tend to fluctuate due to its small population size.
Lumina Foundation recently released their national and state reports on attainment for adults ranging in age from 25 to 64, showing an increase in Colorado from 56.5 percent to 57.1 percent. Although this rate is among the highest in the country and nearly 9 percent higher than the national figure—48.4 percent, according to Lumina Foundation—Colorado has some of the largest disparities in higher education equity by race.
This year is the second year CDHE is using U.S. Census five-year Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) files to calculate attainment among Coloradans of color ages 25-34. For years 2018 and prior, CDHE relied on U.S. Census one-year PUMS data.