The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) recently released Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002): A First Look atÂ 2002 High School SophomoresÂ 10 Years Later,Â a report Â literally ten years in the making. The ELS:2002 followed a cohort of sophomores over the last decade, out of high school and into their next steps. The report has some fascinating findings, largely around post-high school outcomes. A third of students earned a bachelor’s degree or higher (33 percent), 9 percent earned an associate’s degree, 10 percent a postsecondary certificate, and another third (32 percent) had or were still enrolled in postsecondary without having earned a credential. The remaining students either only had a high school diploma or equivalent (13 percent) or less (3 percent).
What’s truly striking is the impact of enrolling immediately in postsecondary education had on completion: among those who began their postsecondary education within 3 months of graduating, 53 percent had earned a bachelorâ€™s degree or higher byÂ 2012. Comparatively, among those who began their postsecondary education 13 orÂ more months after graduating, only 7 percent had earned a bachelorâ€™s degree or higher, although students did become more likely to earn a certificate or accrue postecondary credits without a degree or certificate.
Another, not-very-surprising, but disheartening piece of data from the report is the attainment gap between income-levels. Over 70 percent of students from the highest income quartile had a postsecondary certificate or more by 2012 compared to justÂ 35.5 percent of students from the lowest income quartile.
Finally, the report reinforces the concern over high unemployment for young adults – as well as the notion that education and training beyond high school is critical for career success. While about 18 percent of 26-year olds are unemployed or out-of-the labor force, this figure jumps to 37 percent for individuals with less than a high school diploma and 24 percent for high school graduates, compared to 11 percent for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher, 14.6 percent for those with an associate’s degree and 18 percent for those with a postsecondary certificate. For this cohort, more education does equate to greater job stability.
This report offers a wealth of self-reported data on job conditions and benefits, debt and aspirations and is well worth a read.
MDRC released Beyond the GED: Promising Models for Moving High School Dropouts to CollegeÂ Â this month, a review of research-based strategies for increasingly GED test-taking and success for the millions of Americans without a high school diploma. Specifically, the report focuses on three types of reforms:Â (1) efforts to increase the rigor of adult education instruction and the standards for achieving a credential; (2) GED-to-college â€œbridgeâ€ programs, which integrate academic preparation with increased supports for studentsâ€™ transition to college; and (3) interventions that allow students to enroll in college while studying to earn a high school credential. Indiana and Washington are two states highlighted for their comprehensive approaches to adult education and training.
Finally, Education Commission of States has a new brief – Career/Technical Education, Not Your Father’s Vocational Education – which explores Â some state approaches to increasing career readiness, including offering CTE endorsements, tying scholarships to career assessments, building career readiness into accountability systems, Â integrating academics and CTE content, and increasing dual enrollment. However, much of the discussion around scholarships, endorsements and accountability is limited to the use of WorkKeys, which only measures a slice of a students’ career readiness.
Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director