The percentage of Baltimore city graduates enrolling in college the fall after obtaining their diplomas has marked a 5-year-decline, according to a report released this week, which also found that between 2007 and 2012 city graduates have increasingly chosen to enroll in 2-year-colleges amid dire completion rates.
The report, compiled by the Baltimore Education Research Consortium, dissected college enrollment and degree completion data for city schools graduates. You can access the report, which was funded by The Abell Foundation and compiled with the leadership of an executive committee that included city school officials, here.
The data are particularly interesting because the research highlights trends under former schools CEO Andres Alonso in 2007 who emphasized improving graduation and dropout rates during his administration.
The report found that about 44 percent of the Class of 2012 enrolled in college in the fall following graduation, down from roughly 49 percent in 2007.
The 2012 percentage trailed the 66 percent of graduates nationally who enrolled immediately after graduating, and the 54 percent of low-income students who did so.
The report's author's noted that the declining college enrollment numbers coinciding with a 14 percentage point increase in graduates from city schools could be showing the impact of the district's efforts to increase graduation rates with alternative education programs and initiatives.
"Generally, graduation rates increase as struggling students are given extra support to help them meet missing diploma requirements," the report said. "However, such struggling students are generally less likely to enroll in college, or even be interested in continuing in school. Consequently, improving high school graduation rates may reduce college enrollment rates by increasing the overall number eligible for college and changing the composition of a graduating class."
The quality and preparedness of city graduates is an issue that Interim CEO Tisha Edwards addressed in interviews with The Sun last month about her goals to continue current reforms this year.
“I think we’re going to continue to show an upswing in the number of kids that are graduating, that's a part of what we do now, " Edwards said. “But, if you graduate from high school and you cannot count money, you can’t write an essay, you’re taking remedial courses, that's not what we should be doing.
"I’m glad I have more kids graduating, but I need kids graduating from high school who are prepared for the world. And we’re not there yet. That’s the next level.”
The report also shows that the number of city graduates choosing 2-year-colleges over 4-year-institutions has steadily risen in the last five year--about 54 percent of the Class of 2012 enrolled in a 2-year-program, compared with about 38 percent in the Class of 2007.
The authors of the report pointed out, however, that the trend is a national one primarily driven by a tighter economic climate exacerbated by rising college tuition costs.
Still, the report said, college completion data for city graduates who choose 2-year-colleges show that there is reason for concern when one equates a degree to future debt burden, career opportunities, job competitiveness, and lifetime earnings.
Researchers found that while about 45% of Baltimore city students first enrolled in a 4-year college completed degrees after six years, only 10 percent of students who started 2-year-programs obtained a degree within six years.
Researchers used completion data from the classes of 2004, 2005, and 2006 to show the massive gap between students who choose to attend two-year-institutions.
"The results presented here suggest that students should balance short-term financial concerns with long-term prospects when they make this decision," the report concluded.
Researchers also found that the majority of 2012 graduates enrolled in the following institutions: Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC), Baltimore City Community College (BCCC), Coppin State University and Morgan State University.