In the classic view, an educated population is one of the most important components of a vital, healthy state. In this light Virginia shines, increasing its citizens' level of education attainment in every category and outperforming its peer states and the nation in high school and Baccalaureate degrees and beyond.
Why is This Important?
Educational attainment measures the education level of people currently living in Virginia. It is a long-term indicator of the investment that a state or region has made in developing and attracting human capital. This indicator provides a "big picture" assessment of a state's or region's quality of life, workforce preparedness and economic potential.
How is Virginia Doing?
Virginia's educational attainment is relatively high. In 2004, Virginia ranked 15th in the nation for the highest percentage of its adult population (25 years or older) with at least a high school degree and ninth for adult population with at least a Bachelor's degree. After a low in 2001, Virginia has steadily increased its percentage of adults with at least a high school degree to 88.4 percent in 2004, exceeding the national rate of 85.1 percent. The percentage of the adult population with at least a Bachelor's degree increased from 31.6 percent in 1999 to 33.1 percent in 2004, with some fluctuation during the interim period, exceeding the national rate of 27.7 percent. Virginia is behind Maryland's rate of 35.2 percent, but above North Carolina at 23.4 percent and Tennessee at 24.3 percent. Massachusetts led the states in 2004 with a rate of 36.7 percent for a Bachelor's degree or above.
Educational attainment increased in every region across Virginia between 1990 and 2000. All regions increased both their high school- and college-educated population, with Northen and Hampton Roads regions having the highest high school educated population and Northern and Central regions having the highest college educated populations.
What Influences Educational Attainment?
A number of factors influence educational attainment, including availability of educational services, the quality of those services, responsiveness of educational institutions to the particular needs of a community or region, affordability, regional culture, economic opportunity, and migration into and out of the state.
What is the State's Role?
The state's role is to ensure that adequate infrastructure exists; provide programs that promote educational attainment; provide career services and awareness of occupational-related education, skills, and training; and increase economic opportunity by facilitating a good business climate.