The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) recently released Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002): A First Look at 2002 High School Sophomores 10 Years Later, a report 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 bachelor’s degree or higher by 2012. Comparatively, among those who began their postsecondary education 13 or more months after graduating, only 7 percent had earned a bachelor’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 just 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 College 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: (1) efforts to increase the rigor of adult education instruction and the standards for achieving a credential; (2) GED-to-college “bridge” programs, which integrate academic preparation with increased supports for students’ 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 some state approaches to increasing career readiness, including offering CTE endorsements, tying scholarships to career assessments, building career readiness into accountability systems, 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