|American Community Survey (ACS) and Current Population Survey (CPS)|
|Goal:||Increase college access, quality, and completion by strengthening higher education and lifelong learning opportunities.|
|Objective:||Increase the number of adults who complete a postsecondary education.|
|How progress is measured:||National Dashboard Indicator: Current Population Survey (CPS) data are used to show the percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds who completed an associate's or higher degree in 2000 and 2010 at the national level. These data align with the President's 2020 College Attainment Goal and are consistent with reports to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
National and State Indicators: American Community Survey (ACS) data are used to compare states on the percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds who completed an associate's or higher degree in 2005–07 and 2007–09. National and state data ACS data are provided, as the number of respondents in the CPS does not allow for detailed national subgroup or state-level data.
|Why is this measure important?||A world-class education is a prerequisite for success. The United States was once the best-educated nation in the world. A generation ago, our country led all nations in college attainment, but today, 8 countries have passed us. Because the United States will be better off, in comparative terms, if we lead the world in educational attainment, President Obama has set a goal that, by 2020, the United States will once again lead the world in college attainment.
To reclaim America's lead will likely require 60 percent of young adults to earn an associate or baccalaureate degree by 2020. That means approximately 8 million additional Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 would have to earn their degrees by 2020, compared to today.
|What do the data tell us at the national level?||From the Current Population Survey (CPS), the percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds in the United States who have completed an associate's degree or higher was higher in 2010 (42.3 percent) than it was in 2000 (38.1 percent).
From the American Community Survey (ACS), the percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds in the United States who have completed an associate's degree or higher was not significantly different in 2007–09 (38.8 percent) than it was in 2005–07 (37.3 percent).
|What are the limitations of the indicator?||Annual data on college attainment levels traditionally have been reported based on the Current Population Survey (CPS). For example, the CPS data have been reported to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for use in international comparisons.
The Dashboard uses these CPS-based data for the National Dashboard. The state dashboards feature American Community Survey (ACS) data using 3-year averages to enable comparisons at the state-level, and provide for racial/ethnic detail. Since the ACS measure reflects averages over a 3-year time period, short-term changes may not be apparent. The ACS survey includes a complete representation of the U.S. population, including the institutionalized and military personnel who are excluded from the CPS survey. Since the time periods covered by the ACS and CPS data differ, and the population coverage of the surveys also differs, the results are not the same.
|Documentation for the indicator:||Current Population Survey (CPS) data on degree attainment are based on an annual survey of the civilian noninstitutionalized population. For additional information on the CPS, see: http://www.census.gov/
American Community Survey (ACS) data on degree attainment are taken from the Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS), produced by the U.S. Census Bureau. Estimates are 3-year averages. Use of a 3-year average increases the sample size, thereby reducing the size of sampling errors and producing more stable estimates. For additional information on PUMS and the ACS, see: http://www.census.gov/