Report Reveals 21 Percent College Degree Attainment Gap Between Low-Income and Higher-Income High Schools
HERNDON, VA (Oct. 27, 2016) — Forty-five percent of students graduating in the class of 2009 from higher-income high schools completed a college degree by 2015, compared to 24 percent of students from low-income schools, according to the fourth annual, The High School Benchmarks Report: National College Progression Rates. In addition, students from higher-income schools were more likely to enroll immediately in college than students from low-income high schools, 69 percent and 54 percent, respectively. Low-income schools have more than half of the students eligible for free or reduced lunch prices.
The report, released today by the National Student Clearinghouse® Research Center™, presents a range of postsecondary outcomes for five high school graduating classes (2009, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015). The data covers public and private high schools from all 50 states and from the majority of the 100 largest districts in the United States. It includes more than 25 percent of all public high school graduates each year, or nearly five million graduates in total. The report allows schools participating in the Clearinghouse’s StudentTracker® for High Schools service to compare their graduates’ college transition rates to national benchmarks, including those for schools serving low-income and minority students.
For schools with more unequal income levels, the enrollment and attainment gaps were even wider:
- 25 percentage point difference between high- and low-poverty schools in first-fall enrollment rates, 51 percent and 76 percent, respectively. High-poverty schools are those in which more than 75 percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced price lunch.
- 34 percentage point difference in six-year college completion rates, 18 percent and 52 percent, respectively.
“After finishing high school, entering college and earning a degree are the next critical steps to reaching the levels of education that the 21st century demands,” said Doug Shapiro, Executive Research Director, National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. “But those steps are insurmountable barriers for too many students, particularly those from schools with high concentrations of low-income and minority students. These national benchmarks, combined with comparable data for their own schools, enable communities and educators to pinpoint areas of concern and work more effectively to improve outcomes for all students.”
Other major results include:
- Students from low minority high schools were more likely to enroll in college immediately than those from schools with higher minority populations, 68 percent and 57 percent, respectively.
- For high minority high schools, this gap of 11 percentage points in enrollment rates becomes a 20 point gap in completion rates six years later: 48 percent of students from low minority high schools finished a degree within six years, compared to only 28 percent from high minority schools.
- 15 percent of students from higher-income schools, but only seven percent of students from low-income schools, completed STEM degrees within six years of high school graduation.
- 16 percent of students from low minority high schools completed a STEM degree within six years, compared to nine percent of students from high minority schools.
- Among those who complete a STEM degree, students from low-income high schools are less likely to do so in the hard sciences.
- Students from suburban schools (67 percent) were more likely to immediately enroll in college than those from urban (62 percent) or rural (59 percent) schools.
The High School Benchmarks Report: National College Progression Rates data are drawn from the Clearinghouse’s StudentTracker® for High Schools service, and are presented for students from different types of high schools, such as low versus higher-income and low versus high minority. This enables more focused discussions, particularly about low-income and minority students traditionally not well served by higher education.
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About the National Student Clearinghouse® Research Center™
The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center is the research arm of the National Student Clearinghouse. The Research Center collaborates with higher education institutions, states, school districts, high schools, and educational organizations as part of a national effort to better inform education leaders and policymakers. Through accurate longitudinal data outcomes reporting, the Research Center enables better educational policy decisions leading to improved student outcomes. To learn more, visit http://nscresearchcenter.org.