Educational Attainment

Goal: 55% of Memphians will have a college degree or equivalent certificate by 2025.

  • What is this?

    The highest degree of education a person has completed.

  • Why does it matter?

    Educational attainment is one indication of school quality and affects a person's career options and potential earning power.

  • Who is responsible?

    Individual Memphians and their families, with the support of local schools and colleges.

  • How do we measure performance?

    We examine the percentage of Memphians (ages 18-24 and 25-34) who have obtained high school diplomas and bachelor's degrees, and we look for that number to increase from year to year.

How is educational attainment calculated?

We use local, regional, and national data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

What is the state of educational attainment in Memphis?

Memphis lags Shelby County and the U.S. average in both high school diploma and bachelor's degree attainment. However, attainment for both educational levels has risen steadily in Memphis in the last five years. To reach the stated goal in 2025, the total percentage of people with bachelor's degrees has to more than double.

Who is working to increase educational attainment?

Memphis is a locus for innovation in education. This activity includes the nation's second Achievement School District, Teach for America, numerous charter schools, Shelby County Schools' Innovation Zone, and Memphis Teacher Residency.

Shelby County Schools has established a strategic plan, Destination 2025, that strives for eighty percent of seniors to be college- or career-ready, ninety percent to graduate on time, and one hundred percent of graduating seniors to enroll in post-secondary opportunities by the Class of 2025.

For the 150-250 students enrolled in the City of Memphis Youth Services initiative known as the Memphis Ambassadors Program, the expectation is that 85% of students will graduate and enroll in a post-secondary opportunity.

Finally, PeopleFirst!, a program of the People First Partnership, is working to strengthen the region's cradle-to-career pipeline with a portfolio of initiatives aimed at learning readiness, educational outcomes, and educational attainment. The City of Memphis, as a key stakeholder, supports those initiatives and participates in the state's Drive to 55 Alliance, which aims to increase the education level of workers throughout the state and helps students connect with financial aid opportunities.

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