Friday, August 13, 2010

The Class of 2010: What Does Their Future Look Like?

Over the past few weeks, several reports have spurred me to write this blog entry. The upcoming Class of 2010 ACT report; a recent report from the Center on Education and Workforce at Georgetown University; the College Completion Agenda from the College Board; and Achieving the Possible: What Americans Think About the College and Career Ready Agenda from Achieve, Inc. have informed this blog and hopefully will help us focus on the college- and career-ready agenda for the August 17 Transforming Education in Kentucky (TEK) forums and KET’s Education Matters broadcast.

Readers should note that the numbers below come from all of these reports and from existing demographic data for Kentucky citizens.

This blog focuses on the national agenda of increasing the percentage of Kentucky citizens who hold a postsecondary degree (two- or four- year) and the Kentucky Senate Bill 1 (2009) focus on college-ready graduates. I use the Class of 2010 to provide a concrete example of the impact of the predictions from the reports and previous Kentucky demographic data.

Readers should consider how they would feel if they had a child or relative in the Class of 2010 who recently graduated from a Kentucky high school.
* For every 1,000 9th graders who entered high school in the 2006-07 school year, only 740 actually graduated in 2010.
* Of the 740 who graduated, 670 indicated they would attend two- or four-year postsecondary institutions; however, only 592 will actually attend a postsecondary institution.
* Of the 592, 112 will attend two-year colleges, and only 18 of the 112 will be college-ready (no remediation courses).
* Of the 480 graduates who will attend four-year colleges, only 237 will be college-ready (no remediation courses).
* Of the 112 graduates attending two-year colleges, only 67 will return for the second year of school.
* Of the 480 attending four-year colleges, only 340 will return for the second year.
* Of the 112 attending two-year colleges, only 26 will graduate within three years with a degree. * Of the 480 attending four-year colleges, only 225 will graduate within six years.

In summary, of the 1,000 bright and eager high school freshmen from 2006-07 who entered with dreams of college and career, only 251 will achieve their dream of a two- or four-year degree within three or six years of graduation from high school. What happened to the other 749?

If Kentucky demographics can predict the future, then 80 will not have a high school diploma; 370 will have a high school diploma but no college credits; 210 will have a high school diploma and some college; and 90 will have a GED by the time they reach age 34.

In years past, this scenario may not have concerned parents; however, from the Georgetown University report and numerous other workforce predictions, 63 percent of jobs in 2018 will require a two- or four-year postsecondary degree, and more than 80 percent of jobs will require postsecondary degrees and/or technical training. So, it appears that for Kentucky to have a competitive employment and strong economy, about 800 of the 1,000 graduates really need postsecondary and/or technical training beyond high school.

However, we are projecting that only 251 will achieve the two- or four-year degree, and 210 will have some training beyond high school, for a total of 461 students possibly ready for 800 jobs. Where will employers get the other 339 employees? As I talk to employers now, they tell me they are either importing the employees or have to provide significant training and education to prospective employees at a high cost that impacts the competitive ability of the business.

As much of a concern should be the remaining 539 students who do not have two- or four-year degrees and/or some training beyond high school. More than 200 of them will settle for low-skill and low-wage jobs that do not pay a living wage for a family. The remainder (340) will strain the state’s budget through unemployment and medical, criminal and social costs.

Parents and the public get it, as evidenced from the Achieve report.
* There is widespread agreement (almost 90 percent) that all students need additional education and training beyond high school.
* Support for policies aimed to prepare high school students for college and careers is broad, deep and fully bipartisan with equally high numbers of Democratic, Republican and Independent voters supporting such (almost 90 percent for each group).
* There is strong support (two-thirds of respondents) for the specific policies that put common expectations in place for all students – including common standards, common assessments and graduation requirements among all states.
* More generally, there is near-universal agreement across partisan, ethnic/racial and geographic lines that some education and training beyond high school is necessary – and that stronger expectations in high school will go a long way towards preparing students for their next steps.

The central question for us in Kentucky is not who is to blame for these results, but what are we going to do about these results? There are those who will say we cannot fund or support schools and colleges to improve these results and prepare our children for the future; however, if we do not work to support improvements in outcomes, then we will probably be sending our children forward to a continuing recession and loss of America’s leadership among world economies.

The Kentucky Board of Education and the Kentucky Department of Education will release the first college- and career-ready report in late September. We will show the results for each high school and district in Kentucky. We will adopt a new accountability system that focuses on improving the college-and career-ready rates for Kentucky high school graduates. Numerous regulations and support mechanisms will be put in place; however, the ultimate work is in every school and district in Kentucky. This work does not belong just to high schools and colleges -- every parent, school, teacher, business leader and politician in Kentucky must work together to impact the future for our children. What will YOU do to support the children?


  1. As the District PTA president here in Louisville I will continue to work with the KDE, with JCPS, with our community, and most importantly with the parents/families and students to make sure that every child reaches their fullest potential.

  2. There is an article in EdWeek about Community Colleges Rethink Open Door Admissions. Potentially even fewer students will have that as an option in the near future.

    Also, as we invest in a Pew Center study to reign in our state's rising prison population (45% growth compared to 13% nationally) don't forget to count the number of students who end up in prison because they are shut out from college and career opportunities due to lack of preparation.

    And for students with learning disabilities or ADHD, the graduation numbers are even bleaker nationally. These average to above average intelligence students have a 50% high school graduation rate compared to the avg 74% you cite, and a 12% college graduation rate compared to the avg 46% you cite for 4 year universities.

    As I continue to support the young men I have mentored in K-12 as they struggle to stay in college, I am jumping through every hoop they need me to do to keep them in college. The alternative is not acceptable. I am willing to share all that I have learned in this process to anyone who wants to listen.

    I subscribe to the no blame game philosophy, and we all need to work together to fix this problem. We need to be able to call out failures in the system when we see them and celebrate the successes when they happen. I'd like to personally thank you for the opportunities as a parent and community member to do that. I do feel heard, we have long way to go to get everyone on the same page but some interesting partnerships are forming that give me hope that we will get there.