An attainment goal refers to the educational levels of state’s population; this is different than a completion goal, which speaks to the credential completion of students enrolled at an institution or group of institutions. To impact a state’s education attainment levels requires the collaboration of all postsecondary educational institutions and other partners, such as K-12 and workforce. It also requires focusing on the completion of students already enrolled, as well as the engagement, enrollment, and completion of new students to meet the broader needs of the state, its workforce, and its residents. Common characteristics of attainment goals are that:

  • The goal is quantifiable. It includes a number or percentage increase that can be quantitatively measured over time.
  • The goal is challenging. It requires “stretching” in that it cannot be easily achieved through population increases.
  • The goal includes a long-term target date that is tied to a specific date to demonstrate commitment and drive expectations.
  • The goal addresses equity through closing postsecondary attainment gaps for underrepresented populations such as minority, low-income, and working adult (age 25 and older) populations.
  • The goal is codified in a way that it serves as the overarching framework for the state’s postsecondary strategic plan, budgeting practices, and state policy initiatives, such as articulated in statute and/or the state’s strategic plan for postsecondary education.

For the purposes of this Commission, a working definition of attainment is having a postsecondary degree, credential, and/or certification with current and future NC labor market value. The myFutureNC Commission has recommended a coordinated statewide attainment goal that requires participating educational institutions and systems throughout North Carolina to work together toward meeting the desired attainment levels. North Carolina’s education governance is spread across several distinct systems, but this work must be a joint effort that requires strong commitment and regular communication from leadership of all systems.