WASHINGTON - The United States has fallen from first to 12th in the share of adults ages 25 to 34 with postsecondary degrees, according to a new report from the College Board.
Canada is now the global leader in higher education among young adults, with 55.8 percent of that population holding an associate degree or better as of 2007, the year of the latest international ranking. The U.S. sits 11 places back, with 40.4 percent of young adults holding postsecondary credentials.
The report is backed by a commission of educators who have set a goal for the U.S. to reclaim world leadership in college completion - and attain a 55 percent completion rate - by 2025.
The campaign mirrors President Barack Obama's quest to reclaim world leadership in college graduates by 2020, although it gives the country five more years to do it. The Commission on Access, Admissions and Success in Higher Education set its goal in December 2008, seven months before Obama's American Graduation Initiative.
"I don't think what we're saying and what the president's saying are that different," said Gaston Caperton, president of the College Board, the New York nonprofit agency responsible for the SAT and AP tests.
The U.S. ranks higher, sixth, when older adults are added to the equation, according to the report, which will be the first of many annual reports charting progress toward the 2025 goal.
But the report focuses more heavily on younger adults, who are feared to be the first generation in the modern era that'll be less well-educated than their parents.
The report is tailored to state leaders and ranks states by college completion among young adults. The District of Columbia ranks higher than any state, with 62.2 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds holding postsecondary degrees.