Bold College Attainment Goals Outlined in 21st Century Education Commission Report

21st Century Education Commission releases recommendations to prepare students for global economy

March 10, 2017 - LANSING, Mich.− The 21st Century Education Commission released its final report today – The Best Education System for Michigan’s Success: A Blueprint for Educating Michigan’s Resident’s to Build the Best Businesses, Win the Best Jobs and Achieve the American DreamThe main focus of the commission is improving Michigan’s education system to position our state as a national leader in developing talent. This report provides the framework to outline Michigan’s education system for the next 30 years and to better prepare students for a global economy.

This report acknowledges the economy in Michigan has changed and residents can no longer earn a family sustaining wage with only a high school diploma. The report defines valuing postsecondary education as an essential sea change that Michigan must embrace to succeed.

The report outlines ambitious college attainment goals:

  • By 2025, 70 percent or more of our 25-year-olds will have completed a college degree, occupational certificate, apprenticeship, or formal skill training. 
  • Eliminate the equity gap at the college enrollment level:  By 2025, the high school graduation and postsecondary enrollment gap between low-income and middle-income children in Michigan will have disappeared.

The commission crafting the report defines postsecondary education as education that occurs after high school that leads to a marketable credential.  Marketable credentials include: all forms of degrees, certificates and industry certifications that may be awarded by career and technical programs, colleges, or employers.

“The recommendations in this report are bold, because in order to pave the way to prosperity for Michigan’s students we need to better position Michigan’s students for success,” said Brandy Johnson, MCAN executive director. “I was honored to serve on this commission and our recommendations were a collaborative effort. We recognize preparing students for the jobs of the future is crucial through a skilled and educated workforce.”

The report identifies nine principles essential to designing a world-class education system.  One of these principles is to increase access to postsecondary education. “To start, our state must send a clear message:  Michigan students need a postsecondary credential to succeed in a 21st century economy and achieve the American dream, and our state is committed to eliminating family income as a barrier to obtaining those credentials.”

 The report outlines four specific recommendations:

  • Determine the proper funding level for higher education to support Michigan’s goal of being a leading state for postsecondary credential attainment
  • Support universal access to community college for all Michigan students
  • Provide scholarships to make four-year degrees more affordable for students who demonstrate merit
  • Provide every student with a counselor with expertise in helping students’ access career and postsecondary learning opportunities and strive to be at the national average ratio of 491 students per counselor with a long-term goal of meeting the 250 students per counselor ratio recommended by the American School Counselor Association. 

Another principle guiding these efforts is to enhance accountability by adding measures like need for remedial coursework and degree attainment rates to Michigan’s K-12 accountability system and improve the Center for Educational Performance and Education’s data reporting system to ensure data on postsecondary education is timely, properly organized and accessible.

The 25-member commission included individuals representing education, business, government and nonprofit communities who have a particular interest or expertise in education. Important factors were weighed in the discussion, including how Michigan’s system of public education is organized, governed, funded and held accountable for successful education outcomes.

“I encourage lawmakers and those in education to shift their mindset from viewing education as a cost, to instead viewing it as a crucial investment,” said Johnson. “If we want to propel our state as a top performer in jobs and economic output, we need to consider education a necessity for our state’s future and our students.”

To learn more about the commission, go here


About Michigan College Access Network
As the leader in the state’s college access movement, MCAN’s mission is to increase Michigan’s college readiness, participation and completion rates, particularly among low-income students, first-generation college going students, and students of color. For the sixth year in a row, Michigan’s postsecondary educational attainment rate has increased — from 35.7 percent of 25-to-64-year-olds possessing at least an associate degree in 2008, to 39.3 percent in 2014. Additionally, it is estimated another 4 percent of Michiganders have a high-quality certificate, bringing Michigan’s official attainment rate to 43.3 percent. It is MCAN’s goal to increase Michigan’s postsecondary educational attainment rate to 60 percent by the year 2025. For more information, visit

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