Falling off Track: A Study of College Enrollment Indicators

with Horace Duffy

In this study, we examine three potential indicators of college enrollment among Houston ISD students who were in seventh grade during fall 2007 and fall 2008. The Chicago indicator is based on earning enough course credits to advance to the next grade level and having at most one semester grade of F. The HERC indicator is designed to predict college enrollment and is based on attendance, average course grades, and advanced course credits earned. The state indicator is designed to predict college enrollment and is based on the College-Ready Graduates measure in the Texas Education Agency’s accountability system, which is based on test scores.

We find that the HERC indicator is more effective at predicting college enrollment in later grade levels, than the Chicago and state indicators. In addition, we find that the ninth grade is when a substantial share of students do not meet the Chicago and HERC indicators. We show dissimilar patterns with the state indicator, perhaps because test scores do not change much throughout middle and high school and may not reflect changes in student motivation or effort.

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