College Completion Rates

For those of you looking for a little light reading, the 75 page Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002): A First Look at the Postsecondary Transcripts of 2002 High School Sophomores might be just the trick. This study from the National Center for Education Statistics examined the postsecondary transcripts of 11,522 high school sophomores going back to 2002. This large sample of US high school students provides researchers a valuable source of data to illuminate the factors that influence transitions from high school to college, as well as success and failure rates throughout the postsecondary education system.

2002 Coll Compl Rates

Eighty-four percent of spring 2002 high school sophomores had at least some postsecondary enrollment as of the 2012–13 academic year. Of that 84 percent, 8 percent earned a master’s degree or higher, 33 percent earned a bachelor’s degree, 10 percent earned an associate’s degree, and 7 percent earned an undergraduate certificate, which included certificates in administrative support, computer programming, cosmetology, and medical records.

The overall undergraduate grade point average (GPA) from this sample was 2.65. The figure dropped to 1.99 among those who did not attend a 4-year institution and did not earn a postsecondary credential, and rose to 3.16 for those who earned a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Only one percent of those whose 10th-grade reading assessment score was in the lowest quartile attained a master’s degree or higher. A total of 13 percent of these students attained a bachelor’s degree. By comparison, 17 percent of those whose 10th-grade reading assessment score was in the highest quartile had attained a master’s degree or higher, and an additional 47 percent attained a bachelor’s degrees.

2002 Coll Enroll

Those who attended a 4-year institution earned, on average, 86 percent of the undergraduate credits they attempted; those who did not attend a 4-year institution earned, on average, 68 percent of the undergraduate credits they attempted. Other reports paint a troubling picture of recent efforts to bring college completion to all. For instance, the National Journal reported that 4 out of every 10 Californians are Latino, but only 12 percent earn a bachelor’s degree. Compound this with the fact that 75% of LAUSD 10th grade students are not demonstrating college readiness by scoring a C or better in A-G required classes and we have a more nuanced view of student achievement.

We know that GPA is a strong predictor of college success, but this NCES study shows how dismal the college graduation statistics really are for students who are unprepared. Only 4.9 percent of C- and D students (GPA less than 2.0) earned a bachelor’s degree by their mid-20s. For those with a solid C average (2.0 to 2.49), 14.8 percent earned a bachelor’s. That number rose to 28.2 percent for C+ (2.5 to 2.99 GPA) students. By contrast 65 percent of B students and 81 percent of those with a 3.5 GPA or higher earned at least a bachelor’s degree. Ten years after high school, only 41 percent of the sophomores from the class of 2002 have earned a Bachelor’s Degree. What do you think these numbers say about a college for all culture?

Sources

Lauff, E., and Ingels, S.J. (2015). Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002): A First Look at the Postsecondary Transcripts of 2002 High School Sophomores (NCES 2015-034). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC. https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2015034

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