This series of posts is adapted from a presentation given at a conference for new college presidents in the UNCF network. See Part 1 on The Point here.
In the first piece in this series, we asked the question: We may be making progress as a nation in closing the expectations gap, but are we closing the preparation gap?
Statistics on students’ progress to and through college can shed some light on the problem. By way of illustration, the chart below looks at student progress against three key indicators with the most recent years of data available: the 4-year high school graduation rate; the total college enrollment rate for adults age 18-24; and the percentage of students who graduate from a 2- or 4-year institution within 150% of the expected time to completion (i.e., 6 years for a bachelor’s degree and 3 years for an associate’s degree). While the data imply that all students are still affected by gaps in preparation for college, traditionally underserved students struggle more than the rest of the population.
Figure 1: Student Progress To and Through Postsecondary Education, By Race/Ethnicity
According to research by UNCF, nearly 90% of African American parents want their children to attend college. Yet only 35% of African American high school graduates do attend a postsecondary institution. And, of those who attend, about 38% graduate from a 4-year or 2-year institution within 150% of expected completion time. Hispanic students matriculate into college and complete degrees at about the same rates.
Recent data from both the College Board and ACT add to the picture. Among the class of 2017, minority and low-income students met college- and career-ready benchmarks on college admissions tests at significantly lower rates than their peers; for example, 39% of all test-takers met the college and career-ready benchmarks on the ACT, whereas only 9% of underserved test-takers did so.
These statistics are well-known to educators and education advocates. They helped propel states towards the “college- and career-readiness for all” movement of the last two decades, with the goal of closing the gap in expectations between what it takes to graduate from high school and what it takes to be academically prepared for the work of college and careers, particularly for those students who had not historically had access to a rigorous curriculum that prepared them for life after high school.
In the next post in this series, we will explore how implementation of these policies should be driving equity and opportunity, and why advocates and stakeholders must maintain a long-term focus on supporting faithful implementation to achieve positive impacts for all students.
By Lesley Muldoon, Chief of Policy and Advocacy at CenterPoint Education Solutions