Only 15 Percent Of HISD 9th-Graders End Up With A College Degree

About 15 percent of Houston Independent School District ninth graders will get a college degree.

That stark news was delivered at the board of trustees early morning workshop today to the six board members in attendance (Anna Eastman, Diana Davila, Larry Marshall, Greg Meyers, Harvin Moore and Manuel Rodriguez). The data, part of the Strategic Direction plan the district has been working on, was based on the 2004-5 graduating class in HISD.

Nationally, the average is 23 percent, trustees were told. But don't feel too bad; a similar assessment of the D.C. school district came up with 9 percent of its ninth-graders going on to get a B.A. or a B. S. Urban districts have a tougher time.

The board was also told that basing college readiness on passing grades with the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills was a misstep -- that benchmark being just too low. Board members responded that they'd been saying that for a while.

Rodriguez wanted to know if any note was made of why students might not go on to college, such as first-generation students tackling college or undocumented students knowing that even if they get a diploma they can't get a good job without a social security card. But reasons for not going forward didn't figure into the numbers. It was just numbers.

The biggest predictors of college readiness: attendance, grades, standardized tests and the rigor of the courses taken. Superintendent Terry Grier said that especially in the first three grades, attendance is crucial to students making the same progress as their peers. Of the students who are considered "on track" in the 11th grade, 61 percent went on to earn a college degree.

But only 17 percent of those students in 11th grade were considered to be "on track."

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