Report: Texas Fails its School Children on Higher Ed

Only one in five eighth graders in Texas earns any higher education credentials over an 11 year period according to a report by Houston Endowment Inc. Higher education credentials include vocational schools, colleges and universities and the new index tracks how many students pursue any form of post-secondary education.

The data being analyzed covers students where eighth graders between 1996 and 1998. While enrollment in higher education did increase year on year, certification and completion rates stayed consistently around 20%. This perhaps indicates that the best way to increase the number of schoolchildren who go on to earn a college diploma isn’t to simply increase admissions.

About 41 percent of Asian eighth-graders received a college degree or higher education certification. Other groups followed with 27.6 percent of white eighth-graders receiving higher education credentials, 14.1 percent of Native Americans, 11.6 percent of Hispanics and 11.4 percent of African Americans.

Texan is considerably lower than the national average in this measure as the overall graduation/certification level for eighth graders in the United States is 30%. The only state lagging behind Texas on this measure is Florida.

This is not the first report to highlight the low graduation rate in Texas.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board recently released a study showing that only two state universities — the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University — graduated more than half their students in four years. Texas A&M had a 51 percent rate and UT Austin graduated 53 percent of their incoming freshmen.

While there will remain arguments over whether the low graduation rates are a result of state funding cuts, bad teachers that tenure prevents the districts from replacing, or even that those darn youngsters today are too lazy to succeed, the simple fact is that more than a fifth of a random class should be able to earn a college diploma or vocational certification. Whether you believe that everyone should go to college or that college should only be for the brighter students, the simple fact remains that a 20% combined rate is too low. The children are being failed somewhere.

Houston Endowment is to continue providing this data over the coming years and it is hoped that more states start to track this measure.