CASE STUDY: Chehalis Student Achievement Initiative


A new case study shared by our education foundation, Partnership for Learning, takes a deep dive to celebrate a decade of success of the Chehalis Student Achievement Initiative – an effort back by the Chehalis School District and Chehalis Foundation to ensure students graduate high school and go on to earn the credentials they need to realize their aspirations and support their own economic mobility. The high school graduation rate went from 77% to 95% in a decade, far outdistancing the state graduation rate.  More than half (51%) of students are now graduating high school having completed the course requirements necessary to enter the state’s public four-year college and university.  And, even better, 62% are enrolling in a postsecondary program the fall after high school graduation.  These are wins to be celebrated as the region keeps its eyes trained on the goal of having 75% of students earn the credentials they need to be responsible, contributing citizens.  They are getting there through a strong commitment to post-high school mindset for all students, rigorous academic coursework, expanded student and family supports, and strong partnerships.

Download and share the case study. 

REPORT: Signs of Recovery in Postsecondary Enrollment; Still Down 51,000+

After three years of steep declines, enrollment at Washington’s postsecondary institutions began to show signs of recovery in fall 2023, led by gains at the Community and Technical Colleges (CTCs). That’s according to updated data shared by our state’s four-year postsecondary institutions and the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. Recent policy gains should help pave pathways to credentials for Washington students, but bolder action is needed. Get all of the details in our latest Path to 70 Update Report.

Double-clicking into the data:

  • At Washington’s public four-year institutions, fall 2023 enrollment is down 12.3% (-10,713 students) compared to 2019 pre-pandemic enrollment.
  • Final fall 2023 enrollment across Washington’s 34 community and technical colleges is down 18.4% (-40,725 students) compared to pre-pandemic, but year-over-year enrollment is showing signs of recovery.

Some bright spots:

  • CTC enrollment is up nearly 13,000 students year-over-year.
  • Enrollment of first-year resident undergraduate students in the public four-year system is up 3% year-over-year.
  • Enrollment of Black students has increased since the pandemic’s onset, up 2.3%.

Reasons for optimism:

  • Legislation passed in 2023 to make College in the High School programs free for students has already resulted in thousands more high school students enrolling in coursework where they can earn college credit.
  • Guided Pathways programs at the CTCs streamline course selection and increase completion.
  • The Washington College Grant guarantees financial aid for students from low- and middle-income households.

Why more action is needed:

  • Washington has added more than 500,000 jobs since the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic; another 500,000 are expected by the end of this decade.
  • By 2031, 72% of jobs in our state will require postsecondary education, and open capacity exists at nearly all of Washington’s postsecondary institutions.

We’re committed to engaging in and supporting systemwide and institution-specific strategies to grow enrollment, offer students the support they need to complete a credential, and eliminate inequities in our education system. Read all of our Path to 70 reports.

Our Priorities for 2024

Washington state has demonstrated remarkable resilience in recent years despite profound national and global challenges. Thanks to the strength and diversity of our economic base, unemployment in Washington in 2023 was among its lowest levels in six decades. State revenue growth, while slowing, is projected to remain positive through the next two biennia. However, slowing global economic growth and geopolitical turbulence pose significant downside risks.

As we look to 2024, we urge lawmakers to protect Washington’s economic foundation in 2024. This includes a commitment to sustainable fiscal policy, infrastructure investments that support economic vitality and quality of life, and focused efforts to ensure young people and adults—across all racial and ethnic communities—are positioned to complete the credentials needed to achieve their aspirations, support their families, and help our economy thrive.

Learn more about our priorities for the new legislative session in our 2024 Policy Agenda.

PATH TO 70 UPDATE: Projected Credential Attainment Decline Demands Bold Action

In 2016, the Washington Roundtable set a goal: 70% of Washington students—overall and within each racial and ethnic community—will complete a postsecondary credential by age 26. This goal reflects the workforce needs of Washington employers and national and state data projecting that at least 70% of jobs in our state will be filled by workers who complete a credential, such as a degree, apprenticeship, or industry-aligned certificate or license.

New data analysis indicates that nearly a third of the progress made toward the goal since the high school class of 2006 was wiped out during the pandemic. The estimated credential attainment rate for the high school class of 2021 is 40%—three percentage points lower than the class of 2019 and 30 points below the goal.

Three key headlines emerge from the report:

  • Washington’s high school graduation rate continued to improve.
  • Projected postsecondary enrollment of high school graduates from the high school class of 2021 is down 10 percentage points compared to enrollment of the class of 2019.
  • Projected postsecondary completion for high school graduates is up 1 point compared to the pre-pandemic level and 8 points compared to the class of 2006.

The way forward demands bold action. Read our latest report for key insights and a path toward progress.  Learn more.