Kentucky High School Feedback Reports and UK Students – Finding the Connections for Seamless Student Transition to College

Executive Director of the Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics, Dr. Charles McGrew, recently announced the release of the new High School Feedback Reports that describe the college going rates for each Kentucky high school by county. You can find the new information about the 2009-10 high school graduates at this link: http://kcews.ky.gov/Reports/HSFeedback/HSFeedbackReports.aspx. The reports include whether or not UK was a top destination for that school’s graduates who successfully enrolled in college – and how well the recent graduates did in UK’s introductory courses in reading, math and writing.

For example, UK was one of the top 10 schools for graduates from Adair County’s only high school (the vast majority of their graduates went to Lindsey Wilson, a local private school, or Western Kentucky University). According to the report, the college-going students who met the state’s cut-off scores for college readiness all returned for their second year in college. Their first year cumulative GPAs were nearly at parity with their high school GPAs, and not much difference in their math or reading courses’ GPAs from high school.  However, their grades in English/Writing classes showed a significant drop from high school senior year (average 3.41 GPA) to first year in college (av 2.89 GPA). This is not dissimilar to our research into UK’s first-year student success: many are not adequately prepared for success in Composition & Communication courses – even if their ACT scores are acceptable in this area.

Encouraging our high school graduates to apply and enroll in college is good, but we all need to see how well they do when they get there. High schools and other stakeholders need to see if their graduates earn passing grades and complete enough college hours so they are progressing toward a degree or other credential.

Some Key Findings Overall from Dr. McGrew’s Email to Us at UGE

There was a minor decrease in the college-going rate for the 2010-11 high school class but the actual number who graduated and enrolled in college increased. More than 60 percent of our 2010-11 public high school graduates attended some form of higher education in 2011-12. Considering that Kentucky is a state where only one out of every five adults aged 25 and older has a bachelor’s degree or higher the fact that three out of five of our high school graduates go to college is an impressive accomplishment but it is only the first step. We want students to be successful after they get there. We followed the previous class into their first year of college and reported back on their GPAs, how many hours they earn, and whether or not they returned for their second year. The majority who attended college for their first year did return for a second year but only 15 percent completed a full year of college level credit (30 or more hours) meaning that 85% were no longer on track to complete their degree or credential “on time.”

Adding in the performance information helps to illustrate how important it is for students to be ready for college level work. The average first year college GPA for students who weren’t assessed as ready for college level coursework was just above passing (2.01). Those same students earned less than half of a year of college level credit (14.4 credit hours) during that first year.

One of the more interesting and I think potentially useful sets of information for schools is the comparison between high school and college grades on page 5 of the report [for each school]. In addition to general GPA comparisons we were able to provide a comparison of math, English, and science grades during these graduates’ senior year of high school and their first year of college. This is a rough indicator of alignment between high school and college expectations and we think it will allow schools to dig deeper into questions about how well students are prepared for the expectations of college. This is one of our first efforts to not just indicate that there may be a problem if the college going rates were too low but to also provide some basic information about where to start looking for areas to improve.

This kind of work is crucial for the University of Kentucky’s strategic planning at every level in order to improve retention and graduation rates of our first-time, first-year, degree-seeking students as well as improve the degree completions of all our undergraduates. Here are some additional resources for you to consider as you explore the meaning of this data for your own unit from the new Kentucky High School Feedback Reports and our Fall 2010 cohort’s success at UK:

For help in understanding the Kentucky High School Feedback Reports, download the College Going and College Success Technical Notes from
http://kcews.ky.gov/reports/2013HSFRTechNotes.pdf

Please contact KCEWS@ky.gov with any questions or if you would like them to meet with you or any of the groups you represent.

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About UK Student and Academic Life

Undergraduate Education is now recreated within the Division of Student and Academic Life in the Provost's Office at the University of Kentucky.
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