by Leslie Helmcamp
(Originally published in Opportunity Texas blog)
Only one out of every five 8th graders in Texas completes a postsecondary credential or degree. And even fewer African American and Hispanic 8th graders ever go on to enroll in or complete college. Unfortunately, even during a strong economy, Texans with only a high school degree are nearly three times more likely to be unemployed compared to college graduates.
This new measure of educational attainment shows Texas has far to go in achieving our higher education access and success goals. “A New Measure of Educational Success in Texas,” released in February by the Houston Endowment, highlights the academic progress of Texas’ public school students by tracking three cohorts of Texas 8th grade students for eleven years to determine how many enroll and complete a higher education credential. The report provides disaggregated data by ethnicity and gender, and compares these cohorts to national data, and the state of Florida. Subsequent reports will include additional state comparisons as more states build their K-16 data management systems.
With increased focus on improving educational attainment, these findings provide educators, policymakers, and stakeholders with critical data about where students leave the education pipeline and which students are more at risk of dropping out.
OpportunityTexas supports policies and programs that enable students to be college ready—academically and financially. College success can be improved through a comprehensive approach to making college financially accessible by promoting matched college savings accounts for public school students no later than the 7th grade, increasing investments in state need-based financial aid programs, and making sure all Texas students receive financial education along the education pipeline to better understand how to plan and pay for college.
Here are some of the major findings from this initial report on Texas public school students (Fall 1996, 1997, and 1998 cohorts):
· Only one in five 8th grade students enrolled in Texas public schools completed a postsecondary education degree or credential.
· Half of Texas public school students enrolled in higher education within eleven years of entering the 8th grade.
· Female students were more likely to enroll and obtain a higher education credential compared to male students.
· 41.3 percent of Asian students obtained a higher education credential or degree –the highest rate among all other ethnic groups in Texas.
· 27.6 percent of white students obtained a higher education credential or degree.
· Just over 14.1 percent of Native American students obtained a degree or credential.
· Less than 12 percent of African American (11.4 percent) and Hispanic (11.6 percent) students obtained a higher education degree or credential.