Skip to content

EdNC. Essential education news. Important stories. Your voice.

How does NC's attainment rate stack up against other states?

A note from us

Hello! Nation here. Welcome to the latest edition of Awake58. Last week’s edition looked at the State Board’s formal approval of Propel NC and updates on fall enrollment data.

The Lumina Foundation’s recent report provides an overview of adult educational attainment data nationally… We visited Randolph Community College recently to see their Automotive Day unfold… Congress may hold a vote on expanding Pell Grant funding to cover short-term credentials this week… Inside Higher Ed released a podcast focused on adult learners…

North Carolina’s 2030 statewide attainment goal has been the topic of conversation in recent weeks, following myFutureNC’s update on our state’s progress towards the goal.

 A new report released in conjunction with the convenings outlines how far North Carolina has come since then, and what remains to be done to reach the goal.

“From 2019 to 2022, the state has increased overall educational attainment by 4 percentage points from 53.4% to 57.4%,” the report reads. “But, most recent data show we still remain 391,900 away from 2 million, and are tracking 24,096 behind where we needed to be at this point in time to reach the goal.”

One critical pathway toward the state achieving our attainment goal will be reconnecting with adult learners. Emily Thomas has a report out now looking at the Lumina Foundation’s recent “Stronger Nation” report. (Please note: No relation.)

Among the findings in her article: “North Carolina’s credential attainment rate increased 2.3%, making it one of three states along with Washington, D.C. to see an increase of at least 2% from 2021 to 2022.”

We also have a fun piece from my colleague Caroline Parker looking at a unique career exploration partnership between Randolph Community College and local K-12 schools districts. We have heard a lot of conversations around the state focused on exposing students to career opportunities. Caroline’s article showcases how this can unfold with the right partners.

The House of Representatives will likely take up a vote to expand Pell Grants to cover short-term credentials this week. We’ll be monitoring the outcome.

Thank you for reading Awake58 and EdNC. We appreciate you!

I’ll see you out on the road,

Nation Hahn

Head of Growth,

EdNC reads

North Carolina sees increase in adult educational attainment

North Carolina has seen a significant jump in our attainment rate since 2009, according to a new report from Lumina.

Since 2009, North Carolina’s educational attainment rate for 25 to 64 year-olds has increased by 16.5%. In the chart below, you can see the historical increase in North Carolina’s educational attainment rate as well as how it breaks down in 2022 between graduate and professional degrees, bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, certificates, and certifications.

The most notable attainment increase in 2022 was in certificates — the report shows an increase in certificates from 2.2% in 2021 to 3.5% in 2022.

For more details on the report, including the attainment gaps that exist, check out Emily’s write-up on our website.

Automotive Day revs up high school students at Randolph Community College

Here is EdNC’s recap from Randolph Community College’s Automotive Day, which brought about career exploration for 10th graders through collaboration and creativity.

Automotive Day was created through a partnership between the community college and the public K-12 school systems in the area — Randolph County SchoolsAsheboro City Schools, and the Uwharrie Charter Academy.

The purpose was to increase exposure for automotive career pathways, as well as give these students more information on Career and College Promise, which allows K-12 students to enroll in community college classes while they are still in high school.

“Coming to our facility, you get to see firsthand what we can do, what we have done here,” said Don Ashley, department head of Automotive Systems Technology, “and this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

For a full look at automotive day, check out Caroline’s article – including some fun videos.

Around NC

Washington Watch from CC Daily | The House is scheduled to consider H.R. 6585, the Bipartisan Workforce Pell Act (BWPA) this week, according to CC Daily. “The legislation is expected to be considered under a ‘suspension of the rules,’ meaning that it needs a ‘yes’ vote from two-thirds of those present and that it cannot be amended. The legislation would extend long-sought Pell Grant eligibility to programs between 150 and 599 clock hours in length, or its equivalent.”

Administration visit | U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack visited Edgecombe Community College recently to showcase the Biden administration’s investment into high-speed internet in rural America.

CCP enrollment growth reported | The system office reported out specific data points on enrollment growth for dual enrollment students. “North Carolina community colleges saw double digit enrollment increases in the Career and College Promise (CCP) program during the 2022-2023 academic year compared to the previous year… More than 78,000 students across the state are participating in the dual enrollment program, which provides three pathways to earning college credits or postsecondary credentials.”

Forsyth Technical Community College has been designated a Leader College by Achieving the Dream | Achieving the Dream is a national nonprofit that works to ensure community colleges serve as hubs of both equity and economic mobility. Leader Colleges play an important role in accelerating the adoption of effective practices within the ATD Network and across higher education according to a release from the college. Additional information from the release: “Forsyth Tech is being recognized for their progress in decreasing achievement gaps between the majority of students and students of color.”

Gaston College and Lincoln County Schools partner together | Our special thanks to Awake58 reader Joanne Matz who flagged this program for us. Matz wrote: “Gaston College has been working very hard with Lincoln County Schools to create a partnership of new program offerings, one of which is the first in the state and a new teaching model — HyFlex. The new programs address teacher and nursing shortages as well as Agriculture sustainability for a rural community such as ours.” Matz shared a video featuring a dialogue about the program.

STEM East spotlighted by GoldenLEAF | Check out this write-up on the history of STEM East from GoldenLEAF: “In early 2019, the Golden LEAF Foundation Board of Directors awarded $150,000 to NC East Alliance through the Community-Based Grants Initiative to implement a regional school innovation and professional development training program for STEM middle school teachers in Currituck, Dare, Halifax, Hertford, Hyde, Pasquotank, and Perquimans county school districts in conjunction with Golden LEAF funding received by four of the school districts to develop STEM labs. This pilot led to the development of Industry in Schools.

Wayne Community College is a national finalist for their apprenticeship program | The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) announced last week that Wayne Community College and Smithfield Foods is a finalist its Awards of Excellence category for Outstanding College/Corporate Partnership. Wayne CC will also host an open house for middle schoolers and their partners coming up.

CFCC to Host Information Session for Spanish-Speaking Families
at Burgaw Campus |
Cape Fear Community College is hosting a College and Career Information session for Spanish-speaking families from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 6, at the Burgaw Campus (100 Industrial Drive, Burgaw, NC). The information session is open to all New Hanover and Pender County families, students, and staff. To reserve your spot at the information session, visit

CCCC’s Dr. Barbara Campbell receives ECU College of Nursing Preceptor of the Year honor | Dr. Barbara Campbell, Central Carolina Community College Department Chair of the CCCC Louise L. Tuller School of Nursing, has been named the East Carolina University College of Nursing Preceptor of the Year for Nursing Education.

Other higher education reads

PODCAST | Voices of Student Success: Supporting Adult Learners

Mike Krause from the John M. Belk Endowment and Ashley Flood from Purdue Global were recently featured on this podcast from Inside Higher Ed. I would encourage you to give it a listen.

Krause shared several insights from his own career — including his leadership of the NC Reconnect initiative.

I don’t think American higher education was built for adults, and I think the evolution that’s happening right now is important, necessary, and I’m impatient for it. Much of what needs to be modified has to do with the higher education–industrial complex and has to do with the structures we have in place that, to the end of your question, what happens when higher education doesn’t serve adults? Well, in my own experience—I was an adult learner; I did not go to college after high school, I joined the military. And I will tell you that when you show up as a mid-20s veteran going into college, you have a pretty low patience margin for “Hey, go to the bursar’s office,” and then you do the scavenger hunt.

You can listen to the podcast here. You can also find the transcript here.

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.