RALEIGH — My Future NC, in conjunction with the Carolina Population Center at UNC-Chapel Hill, has released data on all 100 NC counties detailing educational and economic trends. My Future NC is a statewide nonprofit organization whose goal is to increase the number of North Carolinians with high-quality work credentials or postsecondary degrees from 1.3 million to two million by 2030.
My Future NC classifies Avery County within the Boone-Wilkesboro prosperity zone, which also includes Mitchell, Yancey, Wilkes, Watauga, Ashe and Alleghany counties. Avery is listed as having a population of 18,057 people in 2018, with an expected population of 18,031 in 2030.
There are 1,910 students enrolled in traditional schools in Avery and 527 students enrolled in private, charter or home schools. Avery has a median household income of $41,701, a child poverty rate of 25 percent and 67 percent of households have broadband internet.
Overall, four percent of 25- to 44-year olds in Avery have earned a master’s degree or higher. About 10 percent of residents have attained a bachelor’s degree, nine percent hold an associate’s degree, 32 percent have some college, 29% have a high school diploma and 16% have less than a high school diploma.
Avery County has nine public schools that have achieved high performance grades. However, one school was classified as low performing in 2019. In order to meet state goals, Avery needs more students in grades 3 to 8 to score better on college and career readiness standards, 195 for reading and 333 for math. Eligible four-year olds have surpassed the state’s credentials.
The county has shown strong college and career readiness within the high school. Avery High School needs nine more students in ninth grade to graduate within four years and 17 more seniors to complete the FAFSA.
Students in Avery completed 85 career and technical education concentrations in 2019, with the top three fields being in manufacturing, health science and agriculture, food and natural resources. Avery High School has been strong within career preparedness, with 14 percent of students taking AP courses versus nine percent in peer counties, and 29 percent of students participating in Career and College Promise programs versus 22 percent in peer counties.
High school graduates from Avery High School are likely to obtain a college degree or other credentials within six years of graduating, as 60 percent of students do so in Avery compared to just 49 percent in peer counties. About 54 percent of graduates are likely to enroll in a postsecondary institution 12 months out of high school, and 75 percent of these students make it to their second year.
The data also shows that teens in Avery are hard workers, as only 1.1 percent of those ages 16 to 19 are not working and not in school, compared to 8.9 percent in peer counties.
Areas that My Future NC highlighted for growth include adult learning, transitions to postsecondary education and chronic absenteeism present within the school system. To view more data on NC education, click to myfuturenc.org.