A new report by the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University confirms that young people who do not graduate high school are less likely to be employed and that, without some training beyond high school, securing a stable, well-paying job is unlikely.
Like many Madison experts, this new report recommends stepping in early to ensure younger students are on track for higher grades, high school graduation, and post-secondary education.
“At each step along the continuum, we can identify students who are falling behind,” the report says.
“From the start, Black and Hispanic children and those growing up in poverty are more likely than their peers to be off track and those gaps remain well into adulthood.”
The 2018 report was co-authored by Civic Enterprises in partnership with the Alliance for Excellent Education and America’s Promise Alliance and published in June of 2018.
According to the report’s authors, “both K-12 and higher education wrestle with how best to prepare students for an ever-changing future, [but] what is certain is that most young people now need more than a high school diploma to secure a more promising tomorrow.”
In five states—including Wisconsin—the graduation rate gap between Black and white students is greater than 20 percentage points, according to the report.
“Together, Black and Hispanic students make up more than half of the nation’s four-year non-graduates, and both subgroups are greatly overrepresented in many states’ four-year non-graduates,” the report says.
The report’s authors also address college readiness and analyze data-related success rates once a student is admitted to college.
“Black and Hispanic students’ experience with post-secondary education may in part stem from a lack of opportunity at the high school level,” says the report.
Researchers using U.S. Department of Education Civil Rights data found that Black and Hispanic students have less access to high-level math and science courses than their white peers do. This includes Calculus, Algebra II, Chemistry, and Physics.
In addition, “Black and Hispanic students are underrepresented in rigorous course programs, including in AP courses (College Board, 2018) and gifted and talented education (GATE) programs,” the report says, citing 2016 U.S. Department of Education statistics.
Limited access for Madison students to advanced learning opportunities is the subject of an ongoing Civil Rights compliance review process initiated by the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights.
Education researchers and authors of the Johns Hopkins report outline specific steps—and missteps—for communities looking to address achievement gaps and college readiness. Ultimately, their message is clear: students should be prepared for transition years. This includes elementary to middle school, middle school to high school, and high school to college and career.
The authors point out that being college ready is important, even for young people who do not choose a traditional four-year college track. Put differently, almost all high-paying 21st century careers require post-secondary readiness.
The authors use dozens of research reports to examine post-secondary readiness. They consider standardized tests, high school course taking, and college remediation rates. All, they say, have both merit and drawbacks. Although high school GPA also comes with drawbacks, according to the authors, it might be the most telling indicator.
The report advocates for “the best predictor of college success – high school GPA – to focus on what matters the most in getting off-track students ready for post-secondary.”
“High GPAs, more than any other academic measure, transcend racial, ethnic, and income differences in outcomes,” according to this report.
The report points out that national trends are “toward making postsecondary attainment the norm among young adults.”
“Evidence suggests that students must have not only the necessary academic skills but also the know-how to succeed in college, and the motivations to do so,” according to the report.
[Sources: americaspromise.org; Everyone Graduates Center – Johns Hopkins University; Keys to College and Career Readiness, David Conley]