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Increasing Postsecondary Completion in Arizona

Author: Michelle Boehm, Research and Evaluation Analyst

According to Georgetown University’s Center for Education and the Workforce, approximately 68 percent of all jobs in Arizona will require some form of postsecondary training by 2020. Thus, in order to meet Arizona’s economic needs, an educated workforce is essential.

However, in 2016, only 52.5 percent of Arizona’s high school seniors enrolled in a postsecondary institution the fall after graduation*. Furthermore, the percentage of Arizona residents 25-64 years of age holding a 2 or 4-year degree or postsecondary certificate in 2015 was only 42 percent. These data reveal much work has yet to be done in bridging the gap between education and workforce needs.

College Knowing & Going, a Helios Education Foundation Initiave, seeks to increase the number of Arizona students enrolling in a college or university. Serving student populations that are primarily low-income, first-generation, and/or minority, this initiative strives to cultivate a college-going culture within high schools across 18 Arizona school districts. Key components include the opportunity for high school juniors to take the ACT at no cost and student assistance in completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), college applications, and an Education and Career Action Plan (ECAP). Most recently in 2017, over 26,000 juniors took the ACT as part of the Initiative.

“College Knowing & Going is a partnership between Helios Education Foundation, Arizona College Access Network (AzCAN), the Northern Arizona College Resource Center and the Metropolitan Education Commission. This partnership allows us to reach students throughout the state of Arizona and help them navigate the steps they need to take to ensure they are the right path toward college completion,” said Julie Norwood, Director of Program Services for Helios Education Foundation.

In 2016, the overall college-going rate for school districts participating in the College Knowing & Going initiative slightly surpassed the statewide average at 54.5 percent.  Furthermore, roughly ¾ of College Knowing and Going districts had college-going rates exceeding that of the state average. Participating districts with the highest 2016 enrollment rates included:

  • Round Valley Unified School District (70%)
  • Yuma Union High School District (68.1%)
  • Chandler Unified School District (65%)
  • Peoria Unified School District (60.5%)
  • Higley Unified School District (58%)


To view an interactive dashboard displaying historical college-going rates for the 18 College Knowing & Going districts and associated schools, click here. To view the Arizona Board of Regent’s 2016 College Going Rate report for all Arizona schools, click here.

*Postsecondary institution defined as a 2 or 4-year postsecondary institution

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