Kentucky's College Pipeline for the High School Class of 2006

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This Wiki item discusses an estimate of the percentage of first time ninth grade entrants from the high school graduating class of 2006 who were fully prepared to enter college. The analysis draws upon statistics from both the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) and the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE).

Key Finding

The key finding of this analysis is that only one in four – just 25 percent – of Kentucky’s public school students leave high school with an adequate preparation for postsecondary education at either a two- or four-year institution.

Given that much research indicates students who are not prepared for postsecondary education have limited employment choices in today’s economy, this is an alarmingly low number.

College Pipeline Graph2.jpg

How the analysis was conducted

The basic data and calculations used are summarized in Table 1, which provides a convenient framework to discuss the assumptions and calculations.

College Pipeline Table.jpg

The process begins in Column A by determining the number of first time grade 9 students who entered high school with the Class of 2006. These students entered high school in the fall of the 2002-03 school term. The number shown was calculated as follows. It starts with the total number of students the KDE’s Growth Factor/Ethnicity Report for 2002-03 reported to be in the 2002-03 ninth grade class (53,556 students). That figure includes both first time entrants and students who were retained (held back) from the previous year’s ninth grade class. To arrive at the count of the first time only students, the number of students retained from the previous year’s (2001-02) ninth grade class (5,540 students) is subtracted from the 2002-03 Growth Factor figure. The retention figure is published in the BRIEFING PACKET, Nonacademic Data, 1993 to 2008, State Totals, which is dated May 19, 2009. The result in Column A should be an accurate figure for first time freshmen.

The total number of diplomas and certificates awarded to the Class of 2006 as shown in Column B comes directly from the KDE’s Transition to Adult Life statistics published in the BRIEFING PACKET, Nonacademic Data, 1993 to 2008, State Totals.

The number of graduates who reported they would attend college in Kentucky (Column C) also is published in the KDE’s Transition to Adult Life statistics in the BRIEFING PACKET, Nonacademic Data, 1993 to 2008, State Totals.

Column D shows the actual number of graduates from the high school classes of 2005 and 2006 who actually entered Kentucky colleges (two and four-year) in the fall of 2006. This figure comes from an Excel spreadsheet created by the CPE, which is not on line.

Assumption 1: Referencing Column D, we make an assumption that those 2006 high school graduates who waited a year to enter college are equal in number to the class of 2005 graduates who also delayed a year. We also assume that the percentages of qualified students in both of these delayed entry groups are identical. The CPE has indicated to the Bluegrass Institute that about 95 percent of the entering class each year comes directly from high school without a year of delay, so this assumption can add little error under any condition.

Column E shows the percentage of the 2005 and 2006 high school graduates from Kentucky who were prepared for college upon their matriculation in the fall of 2006. This number also comes from the CPE Excel spreadsheet.

Column F estimates the number of first time college entrants in 2006 who were adequately prepared from the high school classes of 2005 and 2006. This is simply calculated by multiplying the number in Column D times the percentage from Column E.

Assumption 2: There is no data regarding the adequate preparation of those Kentucky students who attend out of state schools. However, these students tend to attend more competitive schools and are assumed to be better prepared than students who remain in Kentucky. Therefore, this analysis assumes all of the students attending college out of state, shown in Column G, are prepared for college. The number in Column G comes directly from the KDE’s Transition to Adult Life, BRIEFING PACKET, Nonacademic Data, 1993 to 2008, State Totals.

Column H is simply the sum of Columns F and G and represents our estimate of the number of students from the High School Class of 2006 who entered postsecondary schools with adequate preparation.

Column I is simply Column H divided by Column A, expressed as a percentage, to show the proportion of first time ninth graders who entered college with adequate preparation. Based on the assumptions in this paper, the percentage is undoubtedly higher than the true proportion because it is unlikely that all students attending out of state colleges were truly prepared. Also, the CPE figures include private school graduates, as well.

One other point is noteworthy. Comparison of Column C and D shows that more public school graduates reported they would attend college in Kentucky than actually matriculated there. The difference of 705 students is appreciable and is also low because the CPE data includes private school students.