Austin ISD Provides Model for Monitoring District Postsecondary Enrollment Rates

A critical goal of Texas K–12 education is to prepare students for college and career opportunities. The state’s college-ready policies, such as its college readiness standards and college readiness accountability, demonstrate Texas’ commitment to promoting postsecondary success for all Texas students.

One way to evaluate the effectiveness of college-readiness efforts is by monitoring college enrollment and completion rates. Since 2005, Austin ISD (AISD) has used the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) dataset, along with data on UT enrollment provided by the University of Texas at Austin’s Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Resources (RMC), to monitor postsecondary enrollment for its graduates (both in-state and out-of-state). Initially, NSC data were used as a supplement to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) and National Center for Educational Accountability (NCEA) data. The NSC dataset has since become more comprehensive, providing verified postsecondary enrollment data for 92% of all U.S. college students and is now AISD’s primary source for postsecondary enrollment data.

AISD’s Postsecondary Enrollment Summary Report: Classes of 2002-2008 indicates a steady increase in the district’s overall postsecondary enrollment rate, from 55% for the Class of 2002 to 63% for the Class of 2008. However, the report also finds continuing disparities in postsecondary enrollment across a range of student-level characteristics (i.e., race/ethnicity, economic disadvantage, and limited English proficiency status) and high school campuses.

AISD uses its postsecondary data to evaluate program outcomes related to college and career preparation objectives, to monitor campus improvement plans, and to better target student groups for support. For example, a companion report, The Determinants of Postsecondary Enrollment: Evidence from the AISD Class of 2007, found that Hispanic students were less likely to enroll at a postsecondary institution even though they had similar aspirations and comparable academic achievement to their peers who did enroll. Also, the number of applications completed by a student was found to be related to the likelihood that a student would enroll at a postsecondary institution.