Collaboration in Civic Spheres

College-Going Rates: Highline Public Schools

by Matt Rosenberg March 24th, 2010

Highline Public School District serves more than 17,000 K-12 students in racially- and economically-diverse communities south of southwest Seattle, including White Center, Burien and Des Moines, and the smaller, more upper-income community of Normandy Park. On January 26, 2010, the district released a report on the percentage of its 12th-grade graduates going on the year afterward to two- and four-year colleges. The calculations are not based on the percentage of total students entering 12th grade the prior year who then go on the college the next year, because those who do not graduate on time are not included. But of those who graduated 12th grade without delay, the percentage going on to either a two-year or a four-year college increased from 2004 through 2008. There was a slight shift toward four-year colleges over two-year colleges among those going on to college. But a sizable percentage of overall 2008 graduates (42%) still did not go to college at all in the year following graduation, and an even larger proportion (71%) did not progress straight on to four-year college.

Different viewpoints exist as to how important it is for 12-grade graduates to go to a four-year college, versus a two-year college, or no college. Some two-year college graduates then go on to complete a four-year degree at another institution, building on their credits at a two-year college. Higher lifetime earnings and broader career opportunities are correlated with a completion of at least a four-year college degree, versus no four-year college degree.

KEY LINK: College-Going Rates: Highline Public Schools.

KEY FINDINGS: In 2004, a total of 52.5% of graduating 12th graders in the Highline School District went to either a two-year or four-year college in the year immediately following graduation. 34.3% went to 2-year colleges and 20.1 % went to four-year colleges. By 2008, 57.4% of graduating 12th graders in the district went off to either a two-year or a four-year college in the year immediately following graduation. The breakdown was: 31% went to a two-year college, and 28.6% went to a four-year college.

However, all told in 2008, 71% of graduating 12th graders did not go to a four-year college in the year immediately following graduation.

Another metric relevant to evaluating any K-12 school district’s performance – but not covered in this report – is the percentage of students who actually completed two-year college degrees within two (or three) years of graduating 12th grade, and the percentage who completed four-year college degrees within four (or five) years of 12th grade graduation. This measure helps reveal how “college-ready” are a school district’s 12-grade graduates. School districts are well advised to make this data easily available on their Web sites.

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