Hawai'i's educational leaders launch "55 by 25" campaign

Program aims to increase numbers of working-age college graduates

University of Hawaiʻi
Teri Yamashige, 226.0078
Hawai'i P-20 Partnerships for Education
Deborah Sharkey, 349.8221
Makana Communications
Posted: Mar 18, 2013

Honolulu, HI (March 18, 2013) – A statewide partnership of Hawai‘i’s educational leaders has set a goal of having 55 percent of working-age adults hold a two- or four-year college degree by the year 2025 – or, as a state, we won’t be positioned for competitiveness for the 21st century.
Only 41 percent of Hawai‘i’s working-age adults currently have a two- or four-year degree, according to a recent study.
Hawai‘i P-20 Partnerships for Education – led by the Executive Office on Early Learning, the Hawai‘i State Department of Education and the University of Hawai‘i System – believes that by working together across various community sectors, Hawai‘i can achieve this aggressive “55 by ‘25” goal through a collective effort of supporting student success.
As part of the campaign, the 55by25.org website has been launched with specific ideas to help parents from the birth of their children through college, for the students themselves, as well as for businesses and community organizations to participate in. An aggressive radio campaign is also running throughout the spring to heighten awareness of this issue and encourage action to increase Hawai‘i’s educational capital.
Hawai‘i Not Prepared for Competitiveness
As of 2011 in Hawai‘i, 41 percent of working-age adults had a two- or four-year degree, according to Complete College America. And the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce found that 65 percent of jobs here will require some college or more by the year 2018 – a 24 percent skills gap that has alarmed Hawai‘i’s educational leaders.
Only half of the students who start at a UH campus for a bachelor’s degree will graduate within six years with a degree. Of 100 Hawai‘i students who enroll at a community college campus, only five will graduate within three years, Complete College America found.
Achievement gaps begin early. One of three third-graders in Hawai‘i is NOT reading at or above grade level. These students are more likely to struggle from elementary school through middle and high school and are less likely to attend, or much less, graduate from college with a degree. Roughly 6,000 Hawai‘i teens will drop out of high school this academic year alone.
“Starting from a child’s earliest years through college graduation, we need to encourage student access and educational success,” explains Karen Lee, executive director of Hawai‘i P-20. “Together with our partners, we have a sense of urgency about the need to improve Hawai‘i’s educational outcomes in an increasingly global economy.”
Some Educational Progress Has Been Made
Bright spots exist in this picture, thanks to dedicated educators, parents and students themselves. Hawai‘i is the only state to have seen significant improvement in both reading and math scores of fourth and eighth graders, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress’ Nation’s Report Card, released in November 2012. Also, more than 14,000 students in the classes of 2013, 2014 and 2015 have chosen to earn the more rigorous Hawai‘i State Board of Education “Step Up” Recognition Diploma.
Benefits of Education are Tangible
Benefits of a college education are clear, including the most obvious: personal income increases greatly with higher levels of education. Data from the 1992 to 2011 Current Population Survey of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics & Census Bureau shows that total personal income of an individual with a bachelor’s degree averages just over $52,000 – nearly $20,000 more than someone with only some college experience. That’s nearly $1,000,000 over a lifetime of working. Also, those with a college degree are less than half as likely as those with only a high school degree to be unemployed.
Businesses and Other Organizations Can Help
Businesses and organizations can help further the “55 by ‘25” goals both internally and in the community. Within an organization itself, consider setting a goal to have all employees complete a college degree; offer tuition assistance and flexible schedules to help employees take classes and enhance their knowledge and skills.
Businesses can also help by providing internship opportunities to high school and college students, by funding college scholarships, or by participating in the Hawai‘i P-20 speakers’ bureau to spread the word about the importance of education. Schools at all levels need help, and company-wide community service projects are another way to help.
Parents and Public Support are Critical
From birth until their child’s college graduation, parents are critical in attaining the “55 by ‘25” goals and the 55by25.org website has tips for parents from the first weeks of their child’s life.
For example, beginning at birth, parents should read to their children at least 20 minutes per day. Engage preschoolers in discussions by asking them open-ended questions that encourage their curiosity and passion for learning. Provide children with books and a range of non-electronic toys. Allow them to interact with others their own age. Start saving for college.
Parents of high-school students should review graduation requirements with their child and discuss the types of courses he or she is interested in taking that will help prepare them for college and career. Visit local college fairs and college campuses. Familiarize yourself with college admission deadlines and requirements, as well as potential scholarship opportunities and federal aid. Encourage your child to pursue summer academic enrichment activities including internships.
Hawai‘i P-20 is asking all members of the community to pledge their support by clicking a “Yes” button on the 55by25.org website. People also will be able to submit their own suggestions for how we can attain that graduation goal, and these will be posted on the site.
Please visit the www.55by25.org website for more information on how we can all join together to achieve the graduation goal of “55 by ‘25.” Together, we can do it!
About the Hawai‘i P-20 Partnerships for Education
Hawai‘i P-20 Partnerships for Education is a statewide partnership led by the Executive Office on Early Learning, the Hawai‘i State Department of Education and the University of Hawai‘i System that is working to strengthen the education pipeline from early childhood through higher education so that all students achieve career and college success.