Educational Attainment in Kansas City

 

Many programs in the Kansas City MSA such as KC Rising and GradForce KC continue to develop various strategies that increase post-secondary attainment among minority students and adult learners with the help of volunteers from business, k-12, postsecondary, and philanthropy. KC Rising is a regional initiative focused on increasing the Kansas City region’s global economic competitiveness. GradForce KC is a regional postsecondary initiative that was started through a grant from Lumina Foundation as part of their Goal 2025 initiative.

 

The data suggests that Kansas City has had an above average educational attainment gain. In fact, from 2014 to 2015, Kansas City realized a 1.3 percent increase in postsecondary attainment overall. However, when taking a closer look at significant variables such as the number of adults with at least an associate’s degree, educational attainment for minorities or STEM attainment, the story is no longer the same. In fact, Kansas City is underperforming in all of these variables compared to its peer cities.

 

 

Kansas City has consistently outperformed the nation on overall educational attainment. Overall, 43.5 percent of all adults (25+) in the KC metro have at least an Associate's Degree. Nationally, just 38.8 percent do.

 

 

The education breakdown shows that 35 percent of Kansas City (KC) adults have just a high school degree or less. Nationally, 40 percent do. Twenty one percent of KC adults have some college, but no degree (this could include some non-degree certificates that qualify for good jobs), compared to 20 percent nationally. All adults, in KC and nationally, with an Associate’s Degree make up only eight percent. Only 36 percent of adults in KC have a Bachelor’s or above, compared to 31 percent nationally.

 

 

Relative to our peer metros, Kansas City stacks up fairly well in educational attainment. Out of 30 peers, Kansas City’s educational attainment levels rank us 10th.

 

 

While Kansas City does well in overall attainment, it does not appear to be equitable. Overall 43.5 percent of adults have at least an Associate’s Degree. For African Americans that percent drops to 27.6 percent.

 

 

While Kansas City does well in overall attainment, it does not appear to be equitable. Overall 43.5 percent of adults have at least an Associate’s Degree. Only 21.1 percent of Hispanics hold at least an associate’s degree. That level puts Kansas City in the lower half of our peer group.

 

 

In Kansas City a small percent of Bachelor’s degree holders (this includes graduates and talent that has relocated to the area) have those degrees in S.T.E.M. fields. In spite of the fact that Kansas City is a global hub in engineering and architecture.

 

 

Despite Kansas City’s role as a life-science and engineering hub, the region’s young bachelor’s degree holders are less likely to have their degree in a STEM field. Even more concerning is the fact that that gap is widening rather than closing.