Building tomorrow’s workforce today via education

This piece on education is part of our blog series for Texas 2036’s Strategic Framework, which provides in-depth, cross-cutting data to inform key decisions about the most significant issues facing the state.

A strong education system today ensures a strong workforce and a prosperous economy tomorrow. The Strategic Framework sets six goals to build a strong education and workforce system.

Early literacy is key to open up pathways in STEM fields

Texas students have struggled to attain early literacy in order to set the foundation for educational success. Only 39% of third graders read at grade level on the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness test. On a national assessment, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, 30% of fourth graders read at a proficient level. Texas ranks 12th out of 12 peer states, and 39th out of all 50 states on this metric.

Texas must prepare students for careers in STEM fields. However, students have fallen behind in Algebra I proficiency; passing rates have dropped from 61% in 2019 to 41% in 2021, and risen to 43% in 2022. Only 24% of Texas students meet the standard on a state-comparable measure of eighth grade math proficiency, ranking 10th among peer states and 35th among all states.

Texas students must complete their K-12 educational pathways prepared to enter college and career. About two-thirds of Texas high school graduates are deemed college, career, and military ready by the Texas Education Agency. Texas ranks 8th out of 12 peer states (and 18th among all states) on the percentage of students passing AP exams, at 21%.

Higher education is best guarantee of economic security

Approximately 31% of Texas high school graduates earn a post-secondary credential at a Texas higher education institution within six years of graduation. Moreover, 58% of Texas high school graduates will complete college or university within six years of enrolling. Texas ranks 11th among peer states on this metric, and 38th among all states.

Texans must be able to access jobs that enable economic security through education and training. About 56% of Texas households earn a living wage for their household size, based on the United Way ALICE household budget. Texas ranks 8th out of 12 peer states (and 39th among all states) on living wage.

Texans must meet the state’s current and future workforce needs. Currently, Texas has a tight labor market; there are 0.62 unemployed persons for each job opening in Texas, meaning that there are almost two job openings for each person looking for work. Texas ranks 7th among peer states and 38th among all states on this labor market metric.