Holes in the K-16 pipeline

If you talk to a class of ninth graders, nearly all will say they want to go to college. But nationwide, only 18 percent will earn a two-year college degree within three years of leaving high school, or a four-year degree within six years. Only 68 percent of students who start high school earn a diploma, says a study of K-16 success rates by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. The study uses data from the National Center for Education Statistics. About 59 percent of graduates — 40 percent of the original ninth grade class — go directly from high school to college. By sophomore year, one third have dropped out, leaving 27 percent of the original ninth graders still enrolled.

A graph shows Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Iowa have the highest K-16 graduation rates at 28 to 29 percent, while Nevada and New Mexico rank at the bottom with a 10 percent college completion rate. The graph also shows that some states lose a huge number of students as high school drop-outs, while others do better at getting students through high school but lose them at later stages from the college pipeline. In New Jersey, 90 percent of students earn a high school diploma, but the college drop-out rate is very high, suggesting many of those high school grads aren’t prepared for higher education.

Of course, the assumption of all this is that the ideal is to send every student straight from high school to college to a degree. That’s not the best path for everyone. And the National Center doesn’t consider that if everyone gets a college diploma, the value of a diploma will decline even more than it already has.

However, I think we need to look seriously at the huge gap between students’ ambitions and reality. In New York, 43 percent of students who start high school leave without a diploma. What’s a realistic path for these kids? And let’s explain to students that there’s no point going to college if you don’t have the skills or the drive to pass classes once you get there.

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  1. The graph shows Utah and Idaho having the highest percentage of high schoolers who didn’t go on to college. My guess would be that this reflects many of the Mormon kids going off to be missionaries for a couple of years.

  2. The labor picture just isn’t supporting the idea that every kid should go to college. Check out future job openings in Wisconsin — while the wages for these jobs are depressing, it’s even more interesting to me that so few of them require any post-secondary training. It looks like college graduates may eventually have a tougher and tougher time finding work of any kind, never mind good jobs that pay well and utilize their very expensive knowledge.

  3. K-… 16 now?

    Where did 13-16 come from?

    I must admit I’ve honestly never heard of this “K-16” before, only the traditional “K-12”.

    It it simply including a 4 year BA/BS on the end?

  4. (Evidently the above must be what is meant, on a re-reading. Still seems silly, given taht unlike K-12, the 13-16 is not of set pre-determined length. I, for instance, got an AA before my BA. Because I didn’t get a BA in four years out of HS, does this mean I’d be dragging my state’s K-16 score down? Daft, if so.)

  5. “And let’s explain to students that there’s no point going to college if you don’t have the skills or the drive to pass classes once you get there.”

    What? And admit that all kids AREN’T cookie-cutter equals? Heresy!

  6. K-16 is used by the K-12 education establishment because they would love to control college education too.

  7. Cite, Steve?

  8. College just simply isn’t for all people. I wonder if those who went to technical schools counted in the graduation rate. If one went to truck-driving school, of a beauty academy would that count towards the rate?

  9. Rita – There have be several DOE initiatives to our state’s legislature over the last several years to gain influence and control over state funded colleges. It struck me when I first saw their constant use of K-16 and over time I saw a pattern. These initiatives have always been about more than just working with colleges. They have to do with influence and control over curriculum and pedagogy.

    All you have to do is a web search on “K-16 education” to see what I am talking about. Some use K-16 in a generic way, but many are now using it as leverage to coordinate and unify. As you look, pay attention to who is in charge of the coordinating and unifying.

  10. Oh, wonderful.

    After they get through with that, our kids will finish K-16 and then start their actual education at age 22, rather than sitting through K-12 and then starting their actual education at age 18.

  11. Ken, I figure that’s true already for many college kids, and certainly most liberal arts majors. Their real education doesn’t start until they get out of college and get a job.

  12. I’d just like to say that many of those youth who do not complete college/associate’s degrees within 150% of the time are often caught up in a vicious cycle…having to choose between working terrible jobs at minimum wage and going to school. They have high school degrees, but no marketable skills whatsoever, and have no flexibility in the hours they have to work in order to pay for that so highly prized college education.

  13. Find all homes for sale in Las Vegas, Nevada.


  1. Why Johnny can’t get a job?

    Joanne Jacobs, my favorite edublogger, reports on US educational pipeline drop-out rates.If you talk to a class of ninth graders, nearly all will say they want to go to college. But nationwide, only 18 percent will earn a two-year college…