The report’s findings were announced at a Council on Postsecondary Education press conference Sept. 7 in Frankfort.  Called “Realizing Kentucky’s Educational Attainment Goal: A Look in the Rear View Mirror and Down the Road Ahead,” the report gathered data from all 50 states to track academic achievement from 2000 to 2009. The CPE and other higher education officials discussed the report’s key findings at the press conference.

One of several dignitaries to speak, UofL President James Ramsey was selected to represent the state’s university presidents because he was a member of former Gov. Paul Patton’s administration and took part in writing the Postsecondary Education Reform Act of 1997, known as House Bill 1. Patton now is CPE chair.

“We realize, as everyone else has said, we’re not done,” Ramsey said at the event. “We’ve got a lot more to do. …. When Paul (Patton) talked about the future of Kentucky, he knew it wasn’t like flipping a light switch and change would come quickly. He knew that it would take time, and he talked about the year 2020.

“… So I say today … on behalf of each of our campuses, we remain as focused and as committed to the postsecondary education reform act of 1997, House Bill 1, as we have been over the last 14 years.

“House Bill 1 was a big bill – 200 pages of legislation – but it was a very simple bill. In its essence…it was all about a better Kentucky. It was all about improving economic opportunity and the quality of life of the people of our communities and our state, and we remain committed to that goal going forward.”

The report’s key findings include:

  • Since 2000, Kentucky’s college attainment rate for associate degrees and higher among adults age 25 to 64 has improved by six percentage points – from 24.5 to 30.5 percent. The actual percentage change from 2000 to 2009 was the largest of any state in the nation.
  • The percentage of college degree-holders among younger adults has improved by more than six percentage points from 27.3 to 33.7 percent. Kentucky’s state ranking improved from 44th in 2000 to 36th in 2009. Over this time period, Kentucky moved more positions in the positive direction than any state in the U.S.
  • The six-year graduation rates at four-year institutions, both public and private, improved nearly nine percentage points from 2000 to 2009. This is the largest percentage change of any state, and Kentucky moved nine positions higher – from 44th to 35th.
  • The three-year graduation rates at two-year institutions increased by roughly the same amount. It was the third highest percentage point change in the nation, and Kentucky moved from 38th among states to 16th.
  • Kentucky had the fifth highest percentage point change in total undergraduate credential and degree production (one year or more in length) of any state in the country. This is even more impressive considering that the states ahead of Kentucky (Arkansas, Florida, Nevada and Virginia) benefited on this measure largely because of shifting demographics.
  • The percentage change in the number of undergraduate credentials awarded per 1,000 adults with no college degree is the largest in nation. This is a measure of market penetration and shows how well states are awarding college credentials relative to the population in need. On this metric, Kentucky jumped nine positions from 45th among states in 2000 to 36th in 2009.

UofL had a major impact on pushing Kentucky to the top on those measurements. From 1999-2009, UofL led all Kentucky public universities with the largest increases in baccalaureate and doctoral degrees as well as the largest increase in its graduation rate.

Access the full report, audio clips from the press conference and photos.