Press Release

New data tool shows college persistence and completion outcomes for many New York high school graduates

NEW YORK – The Education Trust–New York today launched its To & Through interactive tool, allowing users for the first time to explore data that offer a window into how well New York State’s public high schools are preparing many of their students who are low-income for success in college.

To shine a light on an important aspect of readiness for college, careers, and active citizenship, the tool draws on college persistence and completion rates through December 2018 for students who are estimated to have graduated from New York State public high schools in 2012 and 2013, enrolled the following fall in a New York college or university, and participated in the state’s Tuition Assistance Program (TAP)—which provides financial aid to families generally earning up to $80,000 in taxable income per year for dependent undergraduate students.

“We believe in a simple premise: the best measure of college readiness is whether students ultimately succeed in college,” said Ian Rosenblum, executive director of Ed Trust–NY. “Giving meaning to that intention requires stronger connections between K-12 data—including which courses students take, the resources and supports in their schools, and how they perform on high school assessments, among other measures—and the actual postsecondary outcomes that students experience in college.”

At the state level, the new data reveal several key takeaways about how well New York high schools are preparing graduates for college, including:

  • 30% of estimated 2012 and 2013 high school graduates who participated in TAP completed college on-time and 57% completed college by December 2018.
  • In the top-performing high schools, 53% of estimated 2012 and 2013 high school graduates who participated in TAP completed college on-time and 75% completed college by December 2018.
  • High schools that served smaller shares of students who are low-income had higher on-time and eventual college completion rates than high schools that served larger shares of students who are low-income, and low- and average-need school districts had higher on-time and eventual college completion rates than high-need school districts. These disparities raise questions about whether students who are low-income have equitable access to rigorous and advanced coursework, academic and non-academic supports, and strong advising services.
  • High school students who participated in Dual Enrollment had higher on-time and eventual college completion rates than high school students who did not participate in Dual Enrollment.
  • On-time and eventual college completion rates were lower at 2-year institutions than 4-year institutions, and were lower at for-profit colleges than at public or independent colleges.

Although this data universe is limited due to the availability of data, these findings represent an important look into how well New York high schools are preparing students—particularly those who are low-income—to succeed in college.

“Too often, students, parents, and educators are given little information about whether high schools are actually preparing students to be college-ready when they receive their high school diplomas,” said Rosenblum. “While high school preparation is far from the only contributor to whether a student completes college, it is a critical factor.”

The data raise important questions for education leaders and state policymakers to consider, including:

QUESTIONS FOR SCHOOL DISTRICTS

  • DATA: What data do schools and school districts use to determine whether their students are ready for success in college, and what additional postsecondary data do they need? What information does this “to and through” analysis provide that can help?
  • RESOURCES: How are schools and school districts allocating resources—including equitable enrollment in advanced coursework, academic and nonacademic student support, and whether the strongest educators are assigned to the students and courses where they are most needed—to promote college readiness for all groups of students?
  • COUNSELING: How do schools and school districts support all students in pursuing successful college and career postsecondary pathways, including enrolling in rigorous high school coursework, matching to colleges and universities, and applying for financial aid?

QUESTIONS FOR STATE POLICYMAKERS

  • DATA: Several other states regularly publish “to and through” data by high school on their public websites. Will New York State leaders make up-to-date “to and through” data publicly and clearly available each year for students, parents, educators, and others to access? Will the state adopt an early childhood-to-workforce data system?
  • COLLEGE READINESS: How will policymakers encourage and support schools and school districts in using “to and through” data to improve alignment with the expectations of colleges and universities and to support all groups of students in achieving real preparedness for postsecondary success?
  • COURSE ACCESS EQUITY: Under the Board of Regents and New York State Education Department (NYSED), New York has adopted a strong College, Career & Civic Readiness Index as part of its new definition of school performance. This is an important step toward educational equity and meaningful accountability. How will policymakers go further to support schools and school districts in achieving equitable access to rigorous advanced coursework with the necessary supports so all students can succeed?

Schools across New York are already recognizing the importance of ensuring their students are ready for success in college, and adopting best practices to support them to and through college. Read their stories; explore data on individual schools, districts, and high-performers; and see our detailed data methodology note at www.edtrustny.org/ToAndThrough.

This project is made possible thanks to the support of the Heckscher Foundation for Children.

“Removing barriers to equality in educational choices is fundamental to our funding approach of venture philanthropy and this particular tool, which links college completion data back to the high school level, is a prime example of our targeted problem solving in action,” said Peter Sloane, chairman and CEO of the Heckscher Foundation for Children.