Attainment Versus Achievement

I have a new column up at The 74 celebrating some good news on college attainment:

College attainment rates rose just 1 or 2 percentage points per decade for the first half of the 20th century and only began to pick up in the 1970s. Although the most recent data only go through 2018, the 2010s have already seen a gain of 5.1 percentage points, more than the gains in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. If the 2010s ended anything like the decade began, it will easily be the best decade we’ve ever seen in terms of college attainment.

The research is divided on whether attainment (aka years of education) or achievement (e.g. test scores) matters more. We just went through a decade with stagnant achievement scores, and ideally we’d see improvements in both, but I argue it’s still worth celebrating the attainment gains.

Read it here.

–Guest post by Chad Aldeman 

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