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January 7, 2014

State issues new college enrollment data

Data said to be additional measure on college readiness

A recent state report on where high school students end up after graduation is aimed at helping them make it to college. The New York State Education Department's "Where are They Now?" report, which was released at a meeting of the Board of Regents this fall, shows whether high school graduates had enrolled in college within one year following graduation.

Overall, the state reported that of those New York students who entered ninth grade in 2008 and graduated in 2012, 76 percent were enrolled in a two- or four-year college the following year.

 Nationally, the average was just 66 percent of high school completers. For Niskayuna High School, the data indicates that 88 percent of 2012 graduates were enrolled in college one year after graduation.
The New York State Education Department's findings were based on a comparison of postsecondary enrollment data collected by the National Student Clearinghouse and high school enrollment records submitted to the state by districts. According to NYSED, the National Student Clearinghouse provides reporting and verification services for more than 3,600 colleges and universities.

Administrators in Niskayuna said the data is one source that can help inform local efforts to prepare students for post-secondary success. In addition to Regents exam results, graduation rates, state report cards and aspirational performance measures (such as the number of students receiving an Advanced Regents), this new data is meant to help districts plan and develop rigorous high school programs.

While the public release of this data included only overall percentages, authorized district officials can review more detailed reports in accordance with state and federal privacy laws and regulations, including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Over time, state officials say the data available to districts will be expanded to show college persistence and completion information
Niskayuna High School gathers similar data based on what students expect to do after graduation and had previously found that locally 95 percent of 2012 graduates planned to enroll in college. This figure is different from data reported by the state, which suggested that 88 percent of graduates were enrolled in post-secondary education one year later.

Ken Wagner, deputy commissioner in the NYSED Office of Curriculum, Assessment and Educational Technology, acknowledged the potential for differences between local and state data in a recent memo to school districts. Possible causes for these discrepancies, as outlined in the report, ncluded the following:

• Some colleges and universities do not participate in the National Student Clearinghouse data collection or choose to block student-level reporting.
• Some students enrolled in participating colleges and universities choose to block student-level reporting or are not reported by their colleges because they do not receive financial aid.
• Some local records and National Student Clearinghouse records may not match.

"Although there are reasons why the results for a particular school may be slightly higher than what is contained in the "Where are They Now?" report, these reports can be an important tool in your ongoing efforts to evaluate the effectiveness of student pathways through a K-12 course of study and beyond," Wagner wrote to school leaders.

Providing students with pathways to success in college, as well as careers, is a priority for teachers and administrators at Niskayuna High School. For example, at the high school level, that education is paired with college-focused guidance sessions, parent workshops, extracurricular opportunities, college visits, and financial aid information sharing.

Still, making the jump to higher education can be difficult for some students. The state's report referenced research that suggests as many as one in five high school graduates who plan to enroll in college fail to do so the following fall. Possible reasons given included unmet need between financial aid and the full cost of attendance, lack of awareness of the tasks, processes and requirements necessary for attendance, lack of access to adults to help navigate obstacles.

The "Where are They Now?" report is separate from the issue of college acceptance rates that gained some attention in Niskayuna this fall as the result of a blog post that focused on the how the applications Niskayuna High School students fared with group of 30 colleges and universities. When district officials followed up directly with college admissions offices, they determined that Niskayuna students had an overall acceptance rate of about 72 percent to the schools over three years.

To download the full "Where are They Now?" PowerPoint presentation and statewide data:

To view the district-by-district data for New York used to inform the report:

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