Alliance releases ‘college-going rate’ for area high school students
By Emily McFarlan Miller email@example.com September 27, 2012 11:04PM
Dr. Barbara Johnson, U-46 assistant superintendent for elementary education, speaks Thursday at the Alliance for College Readiness Summit at Elgin Community College. September 27, 2012 | Michael Smart~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 16, 2012 3:14PM
ELGIN — Within two years of graduating high school, 76 percent of students in Elgin Community College District 509 go on to college, either at the community college or another college or university.
That announcement came at the fall meeting of the Alliance for College Readiness at the University Business Center at Elgin Community College, 1700 Spartan Drive.
But Julie Schaid, the college’s assistant dean of college readiness and school partnerships, said she’s not sure if that number is good or bad.
That’s because the alliance is the first partnership to determine that rate for a community college district in the state of Illinois, Schaid said. In fact, she said, she’s not aware of any similar partnerships or metrics anywhere in the country.
“We wanted to get a bigger metric than just being able to tell you how many of your students are college-ready when they get to ECC,” she said.
That “college-going rate” includes students in alliance partners Elgin School District U46, Carpentersville-based Community Unit School District 300, Burlington Central Community Unit School District 301 and St. Charles Community Unit School District 303.
It’s a number the Alliance for College Readiness now will use as a benchmark for those districts as it strives to increase the percentage of high school graduates who enroll in college.
It also is a step toward the goal of President Barack Obama’s American Graduation Initiative, which is to increase the number of college graduates in the United States by 2020.
“Its wonderful that at least now we know so we can benchmark,” Elgin Community College President David Sam said.
The Alliance for College Readiness noted in the fall immediately after high school graduation, 64 percent of students go on to college — 28 percent at a two-year institution and 36 percent at a four-year institution. Within two years, that increases to 38 percent at a two-year institution and another 38 at a four-year.
By the numbers
Of those students who enroll, 89 percent continue college for a second year. Of those, 80 percent were enrolled at a two-year institution and 96 percent at a four-year, according to the alliance.
And that metric the alliance reports each year? The percentage of students who test college-ready in math, English and reading when they arrive at the community college is at 32 percent this year, Schaid said. That’s up from 24 percent when the alliance started in 2006.
Meantime, the number of students who test completely into developmental courses has dropped, from 21 percent down to 18 percent, she said.
Most notably, the assistant dean said, the percentage of students who test college-ready in math has increased 10 percentage points, from 29 to 39 percent, in the past seven years.
And a team of high school and college educators all recently completed a fourth-year math course that aligns with new Common Core Standards to help students finish high school ready to go on to college, according to Ben Churchill, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning for high schools in District 300. That’s aimed at high school seniors who otherwise only might take three years of math to meet graduation requirements, he said.
It’s currently being reviewed by school districts in the alliance and could be adopted as early as next school year, Churchill said.
And District 301 Superintendent Todd Stirn said teachers in his district have asked what they can be doing to prepare students for college- and career-readiness as early as kindergarten. That’s something the alliance may tackle next, he said.
Greg Darnieder, senior advisor on the College Access Initiative at the U.S. Department of Education, hesitated to call what the Alliance for College Readiness is doing “unique” or “at the head of the pack.”
But Darnieder said after the meeting Thursday, it was “very powerful.” It’s what school districts need to be doing to prepare students for college, something that’s important to the economy at a time when there are 3.7 million jobs open in the U.S. and a “mismatch” of skills to fill them and to national security when only one-quarter of American youth meet the minimum requirements to join the military.
And, he said, “Our best resource is the people who live here.”