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Washington County ranks 19th on 2012 College & Career Readiness Report Card

October 13, 2012|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com

Looking at the Greater Hagerstown Committee’s 2012 College & Career Readiness Report Card, Washington County Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox said he found it compelling to see that the county ranked 19th in the state concerning the percentage of residents who have at least a bachelor’s degree.

Using information from the U.S. Census Bureau’s five-year estimates, 18.7 percent of Washington County residents who are 25 or older had at least a bachelor’s degree, according to the report card. That ranks Washington County 19th among 23 counties and Baltimore City.

“At least 1,500 of those people work with me,” Wilcox said.

Statewide, the percentage of those with at least a bachelor’s degree was 35.7 percent for the estimate from 2006 to 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s website.

Educational attainment is among the statistics in the report card the Greater Hagerstown Committee’s Education Forum released publicly Sept. 28.

In taking over as co-chairs of the forum two years ago, Dr. Mitesh Kothari and local attorney Jeanne Singer wanted to tackle a meaningful project.

“We wanted to come up with a way the community could track how we’re doing and do that each year, to track our progress and identify things that still need improvement,” Singer said.

Greater Hagerstown Committee officials plan to update the report card annually.

As a result of compiling the initial report card, it became evident that the biggest issue was the number of people in the community with no postsecondary education, Singer said.

A table in the report card about educational attainment in Washington County lists the percentage with some college, but no degree, at 19.8 percent for 2011. The source for the table is one-year estimates, from 2005 to 2011, from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

According to the 2011 American Community Survey’s one-year estimates, available online at www.census.gov, the estimated percentage of county residents 25 and older whose highest completed level of education was an associate degree was 7.5 percent. American Community Survey results are estimates based on a survey of a sample of the county population.

For 2011, the estimated percentage of county residents 25 and older who had earned at least a bachelor’s degree was 12 percent. The estimated percentage who had completed a graduate or professional degree was 8 percent.

“I was surprised at the percentage of people who only had a high school degree or less than a high school diploma in Washington County,” Wilcox said. “That number is huge.”

The estimated percentage of county residents who had at least the equivalent of a high school diploma was 38 percent in 2011, according to the report card. The estimated percentage of county residents with less than a ninth-grade education was 4.7 percent, and 9.9 percent of county residents 25 and older had, at most, a ninth- to 12th-grade education, but no diploma.

The initial version of the Education Forum’s report card contained at least one error, labeling 2011 data as 2010 data on one chart. The Greater Hagerstown Committee since has corrected the chart with the updated version of the report card available online at its website at www.greaterhagerstown.org.

James Kercheval, executive director of the Greater Hagerstown Committee, said the graphic in the report card that stood out to him was a map of the United States that shows by county the percentage of people age 25 and older who have at least a bachelor’s degree using five-year estimates from 2005 to 2009.

The darker the color, the higher the percentage of the population with at least a bachelor’s degree.

Kercheval said he noticed the concentration of populations with higher educational attainment along the northeastern seaboard.

“We’re on the edge,” Kercheval said.

Frederick County is a darker shade of the color, while Washington County is a lighter shade of the color.

The graphic also pointed out to Kercheval how much of the country is struggling with educational attainment levels, he said.

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