A Roadmap for Postsecondary Attainment in the Ocean State

February 22, 2018--Governor Raimondo joined Council Members, Commissioner Dann-Messier, students, and education leaders to reveal Rhode Island's roadmap to reaching the ambitious attainment goal of 70% by 2025.

Higher RI Roadmap cover

 View our plan

The roadmap lays out a strategic framework for reaching Governor Raimondo's ambitious goal that 70% of Rhode Islanders will have a postsecondary degree or credential by 2025. 

"We have an economic imperative to help more Rhode Islanders acquire the skills they need to fill the kinds of high-demand, high-wage jobs we want in our state," Governor Raimondo said. "In the coming years, seven out of ten jobs created in Rhode Island will require more than a high school diploma. The postsecondary attainment goal that I set was a rallying cry. We've made significant progress over the last year. This plan is our roadmap to keep going."

Today, 47% of Rhode Islanders have a postsecondary degree or credential -- up from 43% just two years ago. Rhode Islanders without a college degree are twice as likely to be unemployed. Residents with an associate degree, on average, earn roughly 20 percent more than Rhode Islanders with a high school diploma. Rhode Islanders with a four-year bachelor's degree earn nearly 40 percent more.

Postsecondary Commissioner Brenda Dann-Messier said that reaching the 70% attainment goal is an ambitious, but realistic goal. "I'm incredibly optimistic about our trajectory. Getting to 70% is entirely doable, and it will take the kinds of targeted strategies and partnerships laid out in our plan. It will take a big focus on closing equity gaps. No single sector can close the attainment gap alone-it will require collective ownership, collaboration, and urgency."

The Commissioner said her office is launching a major stakeholder engagement effort to get additional input from students, community organizations, public and private higher education institutions, employers, and state partners. The plan released today was informed by stakeholder focus groups and interviews, as well as research and analysis by Education Strategy Group.

The plan lays out four key recommendations:

  1. Create pathways to postsecondary education attainment for adults;
  2. Strengthen investments in postsecondary retention and completion;
  3. Expand postsecondary access and preparation in the K-12 pipeline; and
  4. Establish collective ownership of the postsecondary attainment goal.

"We're proud of the significant investments and progress Rhode Island higher education has made in recent years, under the leadership of Governor Raimondo" said Bill Foulkes, Chair of the state's Council on Postsecondary Education. "We plan to support our institutions so that they can continue to innovate and reach more students."

Notably, the plan released today explains that meeting the state's 70% attainment goal will require reaching more adult students. To get to 70%, we will need 390,000 Rhode Islanders with postsecondary credentials. If we continue on our current trajectory, we'll get to only 300,000 by 2025. We must accelerate our progress and reach 90,000 additional Rhode Islanders -- two thirds of whom are projected to be adult students.

Strategy Director Scott Jenkins of Lumina Foundation, a national philanthropic and thought leader on workforce development and postsecondary attainment, said this trend is playing out around the country in states that have launched serious efforts increase postsecondary attainment. "In order to prepare the number of individuals required to fill high-demand, high-wage jobs, states must focus significant attention on helping adults complete degrees they never finished, start new postsecondary careers, and receive training and credentials of value in the labor market. Rhode Island's plan is heading in the right direction."

Learn more about Rhode Island's postsecondary attainment plan at riopc.edu/70by25

Higher RI infographic cover

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The Rhode Island Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner (RIOPC) supports the work of the Rhode Island Board of Education and Council on Postsecondary Education in providing an excellent, accessible, and affordable system of higher education designed to improve the overall educational attainment of the residents of Rhode Island, support economic development, and enrich the civic, social, and cultural life of all Rhode Islanders. The Office serves as the definitive resource for information on, and the interpretation of, Council policy for public higher education institutions in Rhode Island (the University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College, and the Community College of Rhode Island). 

For media inquiries, contact Nicole Shaffer-Thomas, Director of Communications and Outreach, at nicole.shaffer-thomas@riopc.edu.