The Missouri High School Graduates Report

In the early nineties the Missouri Legislature passed a law requiring information on college preparedness from the Missouri Department of Higher Education. The language of this law is both clear and unchanged since 1993, requiring of the state“…annual reporting the performance of graduates of public high schools in the state during the student’s initial year in the public colleges and universities of the state.” The law proposes early performance in college as an indication of college readiness, as it identifies its purpose as, “…how high schools are preparing students…for college.” Indicators that operationalize college readiness that the legislature charges the state to provide include the performance of recent graduate, first time freshman completion rates, grade point averages, and remediation rates.

Like all data sources, there are limitations to this information. These data only tell us about students who went to college in state, in Missouri, at public institutions. Knowing what percentage of Missouri high school graduates go to in-state, public institutions gives us a better understanding of how well the data represent current levels of college readiness. That calculation is not provided at the source. It is important we not make assumptions about who goes to out of state or attends private institutions. All college going students should be college ready. The High School Graduate Report provides an estimate of those who are not.

To understand how representative these data are and therefore their context, we did some research using the Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System (IPEDS) data as reported in the Digest of Education Statistics, both federal data repositories. Biennially, IPEDS collects information on the college attendance of recent graduates and publishes a table in the Digest of Education Statistics. Here is the link to the most current table. This table shows us Missouri had 77% of their recent graduates attend an in-state institution in 2012 or 47,436 students. Below is a chart showing this information over the past 16 years for Missouri.[i]

 Consistently approximately 80% of recent Missouri high school graduates attend in-state colleges and universities. These data are not disaggregated by high school, so we cannot tell if certain schools are more likely to send students out of state or to private institutions. There is not public data available to address that concern. Additionally, these data are not disaggregated by public or private institutions. In order to determine that concern we can examine an overview of all students in public or private institutions within a state. The graph below shows this information about Missouri students from over the past 20 years.[ii]

         Over the period between the mid-nineties and around 2007, enrollment in Missouri public institutions decreased approximately 10 percent. After 2007 the level remains relatively constant at approximately 60%. The context for these data comes from the overlap of the two groups we just reviewed: recent Missouri graduates, attending in state colleges and Missouri students attending public colleges. Approximately 80% of Missouri recent graduates stay in state for college, of those students 60% go to public institutions. The High School Report represents approximately 50% of Missouri’s first year college students.

        Now that we have established the context of these data in the High School Graduates Report, let’s quickly address what the report contains. The information is updated every April and includes 19 years of data from 1996 to 2014. The whole state is represented with 467 districts and 535 high school in 455 cities. The variables include:

  • A gender and demographic breakdown of first time freshman.
  • Number and percent of first time freshman taking remedial courses in Math, English, and Reading
  • Number and percent of first time freshman taking Fall and Spring semester, completing that semester, and matriculating to sophomore year. Additionally, they include the average GPA for Fall and Spring semester.
  • Total college graduates within 6 years broken down by degree type: Associates, Bachelor’s, and Graduate.

Clearly there are a lot records within this dataset and we would beginning to conduct our analysis. However, we would like your input. What types of analyses would be interesting to you or germane to your work? What kinds of charts, tables, or tools, would you like to see and how would you like to see them? Please send us your thoughts on the matter.

To whet your appetite we have completed some preliminary analysis on each institution’s average, Fall semester GPA. We decided to develop a historical average given the cell size of some of the classes, which can change greatly. The result is a map of the 535 unique high schools within this data set based on the academic performance of recent graduate, first time freshman going to two or four year, public institutions in Missouri. Consider this a preliminary outcome measure of college readiness of these high schools. Also, consider that some of these high schools, given the age of the data, may not be in existence any more. For contrast we’ve included that school’s ACT composite score, a number of other school descriptors, and the GPA scores by letter grade.[iii]


[i] U.S. Department of Education. Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics. Residence and migration of all first-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduates in degree-granting postsecondary institutions who graduate from high school in the previous 12 months, by state or jurisdiction: 2012. Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, March 2014. Distributed by National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d13/tables/dt13_309.20.asp

U.S. Department of Education. Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics. Residence and migration of all first-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduates in degree-granting postsecondary institutions who graduate from high school in the previous 12 months, by state or jurisdiction: 2010. Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, November 2011. Distributed by National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d12/tables/dt12_259.asp

U.S. Department of Education. Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics. Residence and migration of all first-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduates in degree-granting postsecondary institutions who graduate from high school in the previous 12 months, by state or jurisdiction: 2008. Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, November 2009. Distributed by National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d10/tables/dt10_231.asp

U.S. Department of Education. Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics. Residence and migration of all first-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduates in degree-granting postsecondary institutions who graduate from high school in the previous 12 months, by state or jurisdiction: 2006. Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, November 2008. Distributed by National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d08/tables/dt08_224.asp

U.S. Department of Education. Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics. Residence and migration of all first-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduates in degree-granting postsecondary institutions who graduate from high school in the previous 12 months, by state or jurisdiction: 2004. Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, September 2005. Distributed by National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d06/tables/dt06_208.asp

U.S. Department of Education. Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics. Residence and migration of all first-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduates in degree-granting postsecondary institutions who graduate from high school in the previous 12 months, by state or jurisdiction: 2002. Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, November 2004. Distributed by National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d04/tables/dt04_204.asp

U.S. Department of Education. Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics. Residence and migration of all first-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduates in degree-granting postsecondary institutions who graduate from high school in the previous 12 months, by state or jurisdiction: 2000. Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, November 2002. Distributed by National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d02/dt204.asp

U.S. Department of Education. Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics. Residence and migration of all first-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduates in degree-granting postsecondary institutions who graduate from high school in the previous 12 months, by state or jurisdiction: 1998. Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, July 2000. Distributed by National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d00/dt205.asp

U.S. Department of Education. Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics. Residence and migration of all first-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduates in degree-granting postsecondary institutions who graduate from high school in the previous 12 months, by state or jurisdiction: 1996. Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, January 1998. Distributed by National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d98/d98t204.asp

[ii] U.S. Department of Education. Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics. Total fall enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by state or jurisdiction: Selected years, 1970 through 2012. Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, November 2013. Distributed by National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d13/tables/dt13_304.10.asp

U.S. Department of Education. Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics. Total fall enrollment in public degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by state or jurisdiction: Selected years, 1970 through 2012. Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, November 2013. Distributed by National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d13/tables/dt13_304.15.asp

U.S. Department of Education. Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics. Total fall enrollment in private degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by state or jurisdiction: Selected years, 1970 through 2012. Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, November 2013. Distributed by National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d13/tables/dt13_304.20.asp

[iii] Missouri Department of Higher Education. High School Graduates Report. Missouri Department of Higher Education, 2015. Distributed by Missouri Department of Higher Education. http://dhe.mo.gov/data/hsgradreport.php

Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. District and School Information. Missouri Department of Higher Education. Distributed by the Missouri Comprehensive Data System. http://mcds.dese.mo.gov/quickfacts/Pages/District-and-School-Information.aspx

U.S. Department of Education. Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics. Public Elementary/Secondary School Universe Survey Data. Common Core of Data, 2013. Distributed by the National Center for Education Statistics. http://nces.ed.gov/ccd/pubschuniv.asp

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christopher laubenthal

Christopher Laubenthal is a program officer in Education for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, where he works to explore topics around data, education, and human capital through grants and programs.