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The Future Of Education In Kentucky

In October 2021, the Kentucky Student Success Collaborative (KYSSC) was launched. In collaboration with the James Graham Brown Foundation, this group has since been working tirelessly to reform the state of Kentucky’s education system. In the short three years since its conception, the KYSSC has already made a notable impact on several areas of this sector.

Studies out of Kentucky have shown very clearly that higher education matters. Throughout one’s lifetime, research shows that those with a bachelor’s degree in Kentucky earn about $1 million more than a high school graduate. One specific change that holding a post secondary degree has caused is an increase in workforce participation. With a bachelor’s degree, 93% of Kentuckians are participating, while only 77% are with a high school diploma. Other changes included improved financial security and a lower need for participation in benefit programs. In fact, only 8% of Kentuckians receiving public assistance have a bachelor’s degree or higher, while 30% only have a high school diploma.

With what has been called the 60x30 plan, the KYSSC has been working towards reaching 60% of the population being able to boast a postsecondary credential by 2030. This will push forward the workforce and economy in the state and improve the overall state of the education system.

The collaborative has been and continues to focus on specific areas of education reform. Aside from reaching the 2023 goal, Increasing degree completion and closing completion gaps are some of the most important targets. Despite the efforts to make progress in these channels, some challenges still remain. First, key groups in Kentucky have been seeing enrollment decline over the past decade. Specifically, low-income learner and adult learner enrollment has been down 41%c and 46% respectively. Another setback is that the state of Kentucky is currently below the national average in baccalaureate degree attainment. Kentucky sits a little below 30%, while the United States is well over 35%, according to 2021 data.

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These challenges have been able to be addressed thanks to support from partnerships and different grants, specifically the James Graham Brown Foundation. In 2021, this foundation awarded $2 million to CPE to help in launching this statewide student success initiative. In just 2 years, the KYSSC has garnered $4 million in additional grants to help invest in the futures of students across the state.

From these partnerships, positive momentum towards change in the education system in Kentucky was fueled. Together, the KYSSC and the James Graham Brown Foundation have been able to bring the community together, share best practices and tips, and make differences in several different areas of education. A long time partner of the KYSSC claims that there is “something different” about their time spent with the group, “in terms of the energy, the positivity, the growth mindset that comes with it.”

With this financial support, the KYSCC has been able to better support the needs of students in several different areas. Nationally, about 60% of students struggle with basic need security, and only 2 out of 10 will come back to complete their credential after pausing their education. One way that the KYSSC is supporting these students is by improving transfer pathways. Now, students can have a more streamlined educational experience when working towards earning a bachelor’s degree. With this also comes increased retention from first to second year students. From gateway course completion support to better access to advising, students are better supported with the KYSSC at work.

It reigns true that we can accomplish more together than alone. The Kentucky Student Success Collaborative operates on this principle, dedicating themselves to ensuring a bright future for Kentucky’s current and future generations of learners.

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