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1 in 4 LAUSD graduates head to four-year college, data show

Sarah Favot | July 10, 2017



*UPDATED

About 1 in 4 LA Unified graduates in the Class of 2016 enrolled in a four-year college or university, lagging behind the national average, according to an analysis of data on college enrollment for the district.

Twenty-seven percent of LAUSD graduates in the Class of 2016 enrolled in a four-year college immediately after high school graduation, the same as in 2015, according to the data analysis from the National Student Clearinghouse obtained by LA School Report. Thirty-six percent of the students who graduated in 2016 attended two-year colleges, a decline of two percentage points from 2015.

Together that means 63 percent of the Class of 2016 enrolled in a two- or four-year college in the fall after high school graduation, a two percentage point decrease from 2015.

The district has partnered with the Los Angeles Education Research Institute, which has analyzed National Student Clearinghouse data and will be releasing reports next month that examine college enrollment, persistence, and college completion patterns for LA Unified graduates, and an examination of college readiness supports in LA. LAERI and UCLA received a grant from the San Francisco-based College Futures Foundation to acquire and analyze the NSC data. LAERI then gave LA Unified the funds to purchase the NSC data and share it with the LAERI/UCLA team for analysis.

• Related study: LAUSD high school counselors say they don’t have enough time to help students with college application process

LA Unified has made 100 percent graduation a singular focus and has made gains with 77 percent of students graduating in the Class of 2016, but questions have been raised about whether high school graduation has improved college preparedness and college-going. LA Unified has relied on credit recovery courses to boost its graduation rates (42 percent of students graduated in 2016 with the help of credit recovery), and the rigor of those courses have been questioned by school board members and academics.

Enrollment in four-year colleges for LA Unified grads has increased from 2010 when 20 percent of graduates enrolled in four-year colleges.

But LA Unified lags behind national averages, which show that about 38 to 42 percent of high school graduates enroll in a four-year college, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

More students are eligible for state colleges than have enrolled. LA School Report reported that 47 percent of the Class of 2016 were eligible for California’s public colleges by earning at least a C in a set of college-prep courses required for admission into the University of California and Cal State systems.

Kyo Yamashiro, executive director of the Los Angeles Education Research Institute, has an explanation for what might account for part of the gap.

“Our results also indicate that some LAUSD graduates were academically eligible to attend a four-year college but did not enroll in any college or attended a two-year college instead. This ‘undermatching’ pattern suggests that some students and families might have made different choices if they had received additional financial aid and college application support in high school,” Yamashiro wrote in a post for EdWeek.

When looking at two- and four-year college enrollment during the first year after high school graduation, the percentage of grads who enrolled increased to 67 percent, indicating some waited to start college. That fell short of 2015’s rate of 70 percent.

Here are some other findings on LA Unified high school graduates:

• 28,338 students graduated in the Class of 2016, and 17, 811 enrolled in a two- or four-year college in the fall.

• The vast majority of LA Unified’s college-goers attended public, in-state colleges.

• The most popular college among LA Unified graduates in 2015 was Cal State Northridge with 1,320 students enrolled there that fall. Second was Cal State LA with 756 students, then UC Irvine with 247, UCLA with 212, and Cal State Long Beach with 188.

• Of the female students who graduated high school in 2016, 67.5 percent enrolled in college in the fall. Of the male students who graduated high school, 58 percent enrolled in college in the fall. The difference between college enrollment among male and female students has grown since 2009, the NSC analysis shows.

• 73 percent of the white students who graduated high school in 2016 enrolled in college in the fall, as did 67 percent of Asian students, 62 percent of Latino students, and 61 percent of black students

• The percentage of Latino students who enrolled in college has increased since 2009.

• For the Class of 2015, 74 percent of graduates were enrolled in college during the first two years after high school, suggesting some students took what is known as a “gap year” between high school and college.

• For the class of 2014, 85 percent of the students who entered college returned for sophomore year (94 percent for four-year colleges and 79 percent of two-year colleges).

• For LA Unified’s Class of 2010, 23 percent graduated college within six years, a common measure to determine college completion. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 59 percent of students nationwide entering college in 2009 graduated within six years.

• The last time the NSC analyzed the district’s data was for the Class of 2007, when 58 percent of the graduates enrolled in a two- or four-year college or university.


*This story has been updated to clarify that the grant was given by the College Futures Foundation, which is an independent foundation based in San Francisco. Also, the grant funds were given to LAERI and UCLA. LAERI then gave LA Unified the funds to purchase the NSC data to share with the LAERI/UCLA team. 

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