More black students and fewer English language learners in Montgomery County enroll in college the semester after graduating high school compared to 10 years ago, according to a report recently released by the school system.
Principals and top officials will look into the results of the June report, “College Enrollment, Persistence and Degree Attainment for High School Graduates in Montgomery County Public Schools,” to see that progress continues and that gaps are addressed, said Adrian Talley, the school system’s associate superintendent of shared accountability.
“As a system we continue to do better than Maryland, and I am pleased about that, but we have more to do when we look at the underrepresented groups,” Talley said. “[The study] gives us evidence to the hard work we have done in preparing students, but the flip side is that we are not done yet.”
It is the first time that the school system has released the study, as it is the first time that it received the information from the National Student Clearinghouse, Talley said.
The clearinghouse is an organization that tracks and reports student outcomes.
Out of all graduates, an average of 80 percent since 2001 were captured in the report.
The study shows that the overall percentage of high school graduates enrolling directly into college has remained steady throughout the past decade, at about 69 percent.
The school system does not have a way to track what happens to those who do not graduate or those who do not attend college, Talley said.
Of the graduates tracked, more girls enroll in college right away compared to boys, and more white students enroll than any other race.
The study recommends that the school system examine the enrollment of black and Hispanic students, and English language learners.
Now, compared to 2001, the number of enrolled black graduates increased 7 percentage points, to 61 percent, and 14 percentage points less, to 28 percent, for English language learners.
The percentage of Hispanics enrolling remains at the same low levels as in 2001, at about 50 percent.
Of white graduates, 78 percent enroll the semester after high school and of Asian graduates, 77 percent enroll the semester after high school.
The school system has closed the gap in enrollees between black and white students by 5 percentage points, leaving a 17 percent gap, and by Hispanic and white students by 6 percentage points, leaving an 18 percent gap.
“Clearly there is work to do,” school board President Shirley Brandman said. “We have to make sure we are preparing all students for post-secondary education and careers.”
She said the report has some very good news, mentioning the persistance rate of college students coming from Montgomery County.
Of county students who enter a two-year college the fall after high school, 87 percent are still enrolled in college their sophomore year; of those who enter a four-year college, the percentage rises to 97 percent.
“That suggests in terms of readiness and preparation that we are on the right track,” she said.
While students have other options than going straight to college, the school system should be ensuring that students have the choice, Brandman said.
“As we set our sights on college and career readiness we have to continue to work on what it really means to be ready,” she said.
Talley said the school system focuses on the seven keys to college readiness, which starts with having a student be advanced in reading in kindergarten through second grade, sets higher math and reading goals, and sets goals for AP courses and SAT scores.
“But what we have to do is continue to refine and review this information,” he said.
The school system will consider publishing this type of study on a regular basis, but not annually, as it is important to measure the data over time, Talley said.