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College-going and Persistence Rates of Recent High School Graduates: Findings from the National Student Clearinghouse’s High School Benchmarks Report

by Beth Katz

El Camino College (ECC) works with its feeder high schools to increase enrollment of recent graduates. The National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) recently released their 2016 “High School Benchmarks Report: National College Progression Rates,” in which they analyzed college progression and degree attainment across different types of high schools: low-income vs. higher-income; high-poverty vs. low-poverty; and high minority vs. low minority. They found striking discrepancies between these demographic groups. Students from low-income high schools were less likely to enroll in college immediately after graduating high school than students from higher-income schools. In addition, those students had lower 6-year college completion rates. The gaps in high school to college progression and degree attainment rates were larger when comparing high-poverty and low-poverty schools. Similar discrepancies were observed between high and low minority high schools.

These gaps are shown in the data from the Clearinghouse’s StudentTracker for High Schools:

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What does this mean for ECC?

Of ECC’s top 10 feeder high schools, five are low-income, three are high-poverty, and eight are high minority, according to the NSC’s definitions. The NSC’s study quantifies the challenge of getting students from disproportionately impacted high schools – like those who feed into ECC – to 1) enroll immediately after graduation and 2) persist until they complete a degree. The size of the gaps between the different groups of students validates ECC’s existing efforts to work with these high schools and provides additional justification for campus initiatives that support those disproportionately impacted student groups. These efforts include opportunities for high school students to enroll in ECC classes and take college placement exams at their schools.

Reducing barriers to college enrollment and degree attainment is a daunting challenge; however, it is also an opportunity for ECC to make a meaningful impact on students from disproportionately impacted high schools in our surrounding community. ECC has the opportunity to close local equity gaps, through outreach and student support and is already working hard to make a difference.

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