Why We Plow

I wanted to share some sobering news from a NY Times article on Tuesday on college completion.  The numbers aren’t pretty, and here’s an excerpt about our Lone Star State:

The numbers are stark: In Texas, for example, of every 100 students who enrolled in a public college, 79 started at a community college, and only 2 of them earned a two-year degree on time; even after four years, only 7 of them graduated. Of the 21 of those 100 who enrolled at a four-year college, 5 graduated on time; after eight years, only 13 had
earned a degree.

More specifically:

  1.  Our state’s community college system has less than a 9% graduation rate after 4 years (reminder this is a 2-year degree; 2.5% graduated on time after 2 years)
  2. Our state’s 4-year public college/university system has a 62% graduation rate after 8 years (24% graduated on time in 4 years)

And then there’s this challenge:

Among older students, as well as those who are awarded Pell grants, and black and Hispanic students, the report said, fewer than one in five of those attending college part time will earn a degree in six years.

“Time is the enemy of college completion,” the report said. “The longer it takes, the more life gets in the way of success.”

And finally:

Another factor is the large number of students mired in noncredit remedial classes that the report calls the “Bermuda Triangle” of higher education. Half of all students studying for an associate degree, and one in five of those seeking a bachelor’s degree — including many who graduated from high school with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher, previous research has shown — are required to take remedial, or “developmental” courses, and many of them never move on to credit-bearing courses, much less graduation.

This is why we do what we do.  We know it does not have to be this way, and those stats aren’t chiseled in stone.  Transforming those stats, though, is incredibly difficult, swim-upstream-everyday type of work.  Possible, yet hard, for both our children and for us as their teachers.

And we have seen our graduating classes get better with time with their college completion rates, as if they have an existing path to follow up the mountain from the prior trailblazers.

So just know it’s working, and that your work every single day – coupled with our older KIPPsters’ success getting to and through college – is helping transform this article into an interesting piece of our history but not our reality.

Keep plowing,

Mike :)

Full New York Times article: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/27/education/27remediation.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=college%20completion&st=cse

The Promise of College Completion: KIPP’s Early Successes and Challenges from April 28, 2011.

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