Kentucky: Council on Postsecondary Education

National "Report Card" shows Kentucky making significant improvements in postsecondary education performance

Release Date: September 15, 2004
Contact: Sue Patrick or Lee Nimocks
Phone: (502) 573-1555

(Frankfort, KY) Kentucky is one of only 4 states in the nation that over the past decade improved in four out of five categories in Measuring Up 2004: The National Report Card on Higher Education. The other states are Arkansas, Tennessee, and South Dakota. California is the only state improved in all five categories. The report, to be released tomorrow, by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, measures state-level higher education performance in five categories: preparation; participation, affordability, completion, and benefits. This report is the first in the Measuring Up series that examines 10-year performance trends.

Among the findings:

  • Kentucky is one of only 8 states that showed improvement in college participation over the past decade. Over the past 10 years, the chance of enrolling in college by age 19 has increased by 11%, in contrast to a nationwide decline of 3%. While Kentucky still has work to do in this area (top states score 52% in this area vs. 38% in Kentucky) the improvements in this area are significant.
  • Kentucky is closing the college participation gap between white students and minority ethnic groups, and between students from low- and high-income families. Over the past 10 years the percentage of young adults from minority ethnic groups enrolled in college increased from 15% to 32% of all young adult minorities. During that time the number of young adults from low-income families enrolled in college increased from 16% to 30% of all young adults from low-income families.
  • The proportion of African Americans enrolled in postsecondary education in Kentucky (7.7% in 2003) outpaces the proportion of African Americans in Kentucky's population (7.3% in the 2000 census).
  • Kentucky enrolls an insufficient number of working-age adults (age 25-49) in college-level courses compared to top performing states.
  • Despite receiving its lowest grade in the "affordability" category (D-), Kentucky ranks as one of the most affordable states in the nation. No state received an "A" in this category, only one state received a "B," two states received a "C," eleven got a "D" and thirty-six received an "F."
  • The cost of public higher education in Kentucky as a percent of family income is unchanged from a decade ago. This contrasts with the national trend that shows that higher education costs are outpacing family income. The report also shows that the state's investment in need-based financial aid has grown significantly over the past decade (from 20% of the federal Pell grant investment ten years ago to 40% in 2004).
  • As one of five pilot states seeking ways to measure the educational capital of the state's college-educated population, Kentucky received a "+" in the learning category of the national report card. All other states received a grade of "Incomplete." Pilot results show that higher than average proportions of college graduates in Kentucky appear to be prepared for licensed technical careers or professions, while below-average proportions appear ready for further graduate study. Graduates of two-year colleges score above average on direct measures of student learning, while graduates of four-year institutions are less competitive.
  • Kentucky is among the fastest improving states on the proportion of students completing certificates and degrees relative to the number enrolled; however, Kentucky ranks 47th in the nation in the percent of the adult population with a four-year degree or higher.
  • The gap between blacks and whites receiving certificates and degrees has narrowed over the past decade. However, this gap remains substantial.

In a press release about the national higher education performance, Pat Callan, President of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, reports "At a time of economic and demographic changes that point to a need for more Americans with education and training beyond high school, the United States has been stalled for a decade." Measuring Up 2004 shows that Kentucky is bucking these national trends. |


Kentucky's Postsecondary Education System encompasses nine public institutions and numerous independent institutions and represents 229,061 students, 538,866 Kentucky alumni, and 275,108 GED recipients. When Kentuckians earn postsecondary degrees, their skills improve and their wages go up; they are more likely to lead healthy lives and be engaged in their communities; and they build better futures for themselves and for their families.


Related Information
Download a full copy of the Measuring Up 2004 report.

Last Updated 8/3/2005