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Reports from Policy Analysts

Go-On Issues for Idaho

Submitted On: Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Analyst: Dyer, Darlene/Wood River High School

Just shortly after the nation boasted its graduation rates were soaring and Idaho’s were somewhat increasing, Idaho state’s 2015 “go-on rate” of 46 percent was released by the State Board of Education (SBOE).  In Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 134, Idaho adopted a goal: “60 percent of Idaho citizens aged 25-34 earn a post-secondary degree or certificate by 2020.” 


Yet for three consecutive years the go-on rate has been slipping: 2014, 52 percent; 2013, 54 percent.  Why?


Currently only 40 percent of Idahoan’s have a certificate/degree from a post-secondary institution.  Reason enough for the SBOE and the state legislature setting a higher goal.  But is it realistic with this downward trend of student attendance?  In 2015 “only 17 percent of [Idaho] high schools had a go-on rate of 60 percent,” according to the SBOE’s go-on data.

Not factored as yet into the 60 percent goal are career-technical programs. Some programs apply while others do not. 


Boise School District Superintendent Don Coberly has said that these graduates can land high-paying and satisfying jobs, but these personal successes should be part of the 60 percent equation.


One reason for the unexpected decrease might be the number of LDS (Latter-Day Saints) opting for missionary service in lieu of college after high school.  Devin Bodkin of Idaho Education News reports, “In 2012, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints lowered its minimum age for missionary service.”  

Then Eastern Idaho, predominantly 13 LDS counties, showed a marked drop in go-on rates.


Idaho has recently begun to look at college costs and enacted legislation to provide more high school dual credit and advanced placement courses so students could get ahead in their college credits, and the SBOE will now provide a “direct admissions” program where students will receive letters pre-approving their enrollment in Idaho colleges or universities.


The latest theory about the downward trend of go-on rates comes from The Idaho Department of Labor.  The state’s unemployment rate in August was 3.8 percent, compared to 4.1 percent in 2015.  When more jobs are available, high school graduates pursue them as opposed to enrolling in a university or college program.


The “60 by 20” goal is indeed questionable especially when one considers the large number of rural and poor communities in our state that struggle to make ends meet. Idaho demographics show that Hispanics are the fastest-growing group with a go-on rate 6 percent lower than non-Hispanic.  If Idaho wants to reach a 60 percent go-on, we have to figure out ways to help our students from lower income and migrant families.



Bodkin, Devin.  “East Idaho’s Go-On Rates: Lowest in the State.”  Idaho Education News. 31 Oct. 2016.


“Education Takes More Than a Slogan.”  Twin Falls Times-News.  25 Nov. 2016. A8.


Reichert, Kevin.  “Idaho’s Go-On Woes. What Happened? What Happens Now?”  Idaho Education News. 27 Oct. 2016.


Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 134.  Legislature of the State of Idaho, Second Regular Session 2016.


Academic Level

Higher Education



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