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Education Working Paper
No. 3  September 2003


Public High School Graduation and College Readiness Rates in the United States

Endnotes

  1. GED is an acronym for General Educational Development. Some people mistakenly believe that the “E” in “GED” stands for “equivalency.”
  2. These data are available at http://www.nces.ed.gov/ccd/stnfis.asp.
  3. Numbers do not sum exactly due to rounding.
  4. Two racial group cohorts (American Indian students in Alabama and Asian students in Oklahoma) were excluded because of suspected problems with the available data. A few data (the number of white 8th graders in Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin in 1996-97; the total grade-level enrollment figures in Michigan since 1997-98; and the total grade-level enrollment and diploma figures in the District of Columbia since 1998-99) were inaccurate in the CCD files; we obtained correct data from state officials.
  5. Data from this study are protected by confidentiality laws and are made available only to researchers who obtain a Restricted Use Data License from NCES.
  6. Not every student in the NAEP Transcript Study has a NAEP test score provided. For the transcript screen we analyze the entire data set, while for the test score screen we analyze only those students for whom a test score is provided.
  7. These data are available at http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/DTGeoSearchByListServlet?ds_name=DE C_2000_SF2_U&_lang=en&_ts=77125736842; select which geographic areas to view, choose Table PCT3 (“Sex by Age”), and then go to “Change Selections” and choose “Race or Ethnic Groups.”
  8. This method has a limitation: it assumes that private schools produce college-ready graduates at the same rate as public schools. In reality, it is probable that private schools produce college-ready graduates at a higher rate. However, data on the college readiness of private-school graduates are not readily available. We chose this method for estimating the total population of college-ready graduates because it probably overestimates minority achievement somewhat rather than underestimating it. White students are more likely than minorities to attend private schools, so if this method does underestimate the college readiness of private-school graduates (as is probably the case) this will disproportionately reduce our estimate of white student college readiness, thus boosting our estimate of the portion of college-ready graduates who are minorities. Since part of our purpose is to look for evidence of problems in the education of minority students in the K-12 system, we deemed it safer to overestimate minority achievement somewhat rather than underestimate it.
  9. These data are available at http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2002/2002212.pdf.
  10. We have no reason to believe that there are significant differences in racial composition among college cohorts that are very close to one another in time. Incoming freshmen in 2000 should look very much like incoming freshmen in 1999, 1998, and 1997.
  11. These data are available at http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2003/2003060.pdf; see Table 181.
  12. For convenience we refer to Hispanic ethnicity as a “racial” group. Hispanic students are not included in any other group.

References

 


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EWP 03 PDF (96 kb)

WHAT THE PRESS SAID

SUMMARY:
Students who fail to graduate high school prepared to attend a four-year college are much less likely to gain full access to our country’s economic, political, and social opportunities. In this study, Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Jay P. Greene, Ph.D., and Senior Research Associate Greg Forster, Ph.D., estimate the percentage of students in the public high school class of 2001 who actually possess the minimum qualifications for applying to four-year colleges. The study finds that, nationally, only 32% of students in the Class of 2001 were college ready, with significantly lower rates for black and Hispanic students. This suggests that the main reason these groups are underrepresented in college admissions is that they are not acquiring college-ready skills in the K-12 system, rather than inadequate financial aid or affirmative action policies.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Executive Summary

About the Authors

Acknowledgements

About Education Working Papers

Introduction

Previous Research

High School Graduation Rate

College Readiness Rate

Method

High School Graduation Rate

College Readiness Rate

Comparison of Overall, College-Ready, and College-Entering Populations

Results

High School Graduation Rate

College Readiness Rate

Comparison of Overall, College-Ready, and College-Entering Populations

Conclusion

Endnotes

References

Appendix

Table 1: High School Graduation Rate by State and Race

Table 2: Ranking of States by High School Graduation Rate

Table 3: Ranking of States by White High School Graduation Rate

Table 4: Ranking of States by Black High School Graduation Rate

Table 5: Ranking of States by Hispanic High School Graduation Rate

Table 6: Ranking of States by Asian High School Graduation Rate

Table 7: Ranking of States by American Indian High School Graduation Rate

Table 8: Proportion of All Students Who Graduate with College-Ready Transcripts

Table 9: College Readiness Rate

Table 10: Comparison of Overall, College-Ready, and College-Entering Populations in 2000

 


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