Kentucky: Council on Postsecondary Education

Council on Postsecondary Education

Press Release Date:  Thursday, September 07, 2006  
Contact Information:  Sue Patrick
502-573-1555 ext. 308

(FRANKFORT, Ky.)--Kentucky reported long-term gains in three of five categories of postsecondary education performance, according to Measuring Up 2006: The National Report Card on Higher Education. The report, released today by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education in Washington, D.C., assesses the performance of the nation and all 50 states in five key areas: college preparation, college participation, college affordability, college completion and benefits to the state.

Kentucky’s postsecondary education system posted significant improvements in the categories of preparation, participation and benefits to the state since the early 1990s.  While Kentucky showed improvements on some of the indicators in the categories of affordability and completion, it did not show improvement on more than half of the indicators, which is required to post a gain.

“The report mirrors the issues addressed by the Council's Public Agenda. It underscores the importance of staying the course set for us by the postsecondary and adult education reform legislation,” stated Tom Layzell, president of the Council on Postsecondary Education.

“We have made impressive progress in the past nine years, but we still have a long way to go,” said Layzell.

Layzell said the Council is paying particular attention to improving affordability and degree completion by getting more involved in tuition-setting, using the results of an affordability study to inform tuition policies, and setting aggressive educational attainment goals across the system.

 Forty-three states, Kentucky included, received a grade of F in the affordability category in 2006. California and Utah received the highest grade in the category, a C-, while Hawaii, Idaho, Minnesota and New Jersey received a D and Washington received a D-.

A sixth category, student learning, remains ungraded in 2006. However, Kentucky is recognized for its leadership role in this area. While most  states received an incomplete, Kentucky is among nine states to receive a “Plus” in this category because data were sufficient to compare at least two of the three indicators—literacy levels of the state’s residents, graduates ready for advanced practice as measured by licensures, competitive admissions and teacher performance, and performance of college graduates.

The report cites Kentucky’s policy reforms as sustaining its continued improvements, but warns that underperformance in educational attainment could limit its access to a competitive workforce and weaken its economy over time.

Kentucky’s 2006 grades are:
Preparation: C-
Participation: B-
Affordability: F
Completion C+
Benefits to State: C+
Student Learning: “Plus” (most states received an incomplete)

Key findings:

• Kentucky is one of only eight states in the nation that showed improvement in college participation over the past decade. The chance of a ninth grader enrolling in college within four years has increased by 12 percent, in contrast to a nationwide decline of 2 percent.

• The percentage of working-age adults who are enrolled part-time in college-level education or training has increased by 1 percent, compared with a nationwide decline of 12 percent.

• Over the past seven years, the percentage of eighth graders performing well on national assessments in reading has increased—in contrast to a nationwide decline on this measure. However, only a “fair percentage” performs well in science, even though this percentage has increased substantially over the past nine years.

• Low-income eighth graders perform poorly on national math assessments, although the state has improved substantially.

• Compared with other states, a large percentage of freshmen at four-year colleges and universities return for their sophomore year.

• While Kentucky’s grade on completion remains unchanged, the report stated, “Kentucky has shown some of the greatest improvement among the states on this measure. Most of the improvement has come in the number of certificates awarded; the proportion of bachelor’s degrees awarded has declined.”

• Even though Kentucky still lags the nation in the percent of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree, the state had one of the steepest increases in the nation on this measure over the past 12 years.

• Over the past decade, Kentucky has narrowed the gap between whites and blacks in the proportion of students completing certificates and degrees relative to the number enrolled.

• Net college costs (tuition, room and board after financial aid) for low-and middle-income students to attend public two-and four-year colleges represent about 40 percent of annual family income. These institutions enroll 83 percent of college students in the state.

• Kentucky makes a very low investment in need-based financial aid compared with top-performing states, even though the state has increased its investment since 1992.

Kentucky’s report can be accessed at


Last Updated 9/13/2006