One of the most important, effective ways to ensue Texas remains an economic powerhouse well into the future is to educate the more than 5 million children in our public schools.
The Texas economy increasingly depends on a highly educated workforce that has the knowledge and skills needed to success in the 21st century. With strategic investments in education at all levels, from prekindergarten to our colleges and universities, we can ensure a strong workforce and a strong economy like the one Texas has enjoyed in recent decades.
Highlighting the link between education and our economic security as the state grows is a central focus of Texas 2036, because the challenges in public education are rather clear: By 2027, at least 62 percent of jobs in Texas will require a postsecondary credential, but only 32 percent of high school graduates earn one within six years of graduating high school. When compared with peer states in terms of the attainment of a postsecondary credential, Texas is last.
But this is not a problem that begins in high school or higher education. Right now, only 45 percent of third graders are reading on grade level. Students who are African American, Hispanic and economically disadvantaged are far less likely than other students to be reading on grade level.
But we know that getting students to succeed at reading early is key to long-term success. In fact, research shows that students are four times more likely to drop out of school if they are not reading on grade level in third grade. There is, in other words, a direct connection between the success of our state’s efforts to educate children in the early grades and our ability to meet the economic demands of the future.
Last session, Texas took a big step forward in major school finance reform legislation, which moved our state in the right direction with a focus on early literacy, including full-day pre-K, kindergarten readiness diagnostics, training in reading instruction and targets for improving outcomes.
In less than six weeks, Texas 2036 will be rolling out a long-term forwarding thinking set of aspirational goals and performance indicators developed through data analysis, policy research and discussion with key experts around the state to make sure Texas is the best place to live and work. One of our six policy areas will focus on education and workforce.
So, we invite you to sign up for our newsletter and follow us on social as we prepare to roll out the goals and performance indicators that will lay the foundation for how well Texas does in the future.