In the annual A Stronger Nation report from The Lumina Foundation, Illinois finished in the top ten states in postsecondary education attainment level at 50.1%. This is almost 5 percentage points higher than the national average of 45.8%. The national average has increased by 7.9 percentage points.
Locally, McDonough County comes in with a 46% postsecondary attainment level. This is above the national average and towards the upper end of counties in Illinois. A big reason for that is the presence of Western Illinois University. When you look a little further away from Macomb, the statistics do not look the same. Other local rural counties that do not feature a large university, such as Schuyler (29%) and Adams (34%), have differing statistics there.
The most glaring element of this report is the variation in attainment rates across different race and ethnicity groups. At the national level Hispanics recorded the lowest attainment rate at 21.3 %;
Asian and Pacific Islanders posted a rate of 61.2 %; and The African American rate of attainment was 29.3 %. While all of those rates are higher than they have been in recent years, there is still clearly work to be done.
For a deeper dive into these numbers and what they all mean, I spoke with Lumina Vice President of Strategic Impact Courtney Brown. You can listen to our conversation here.