Saturday, November 25, 2017


The past month has seen some really interesting writing about education. Here is a sampling of articles from November.

Higher Education

There have been several articles this month about colleges and universities in general that have been interesting.

In "The Myth of American Universities as Inequality Fighters"a research-based article from The Atlantic, Derek Thompson  argues that the top universities in the country are basically just helping students from wealthy families stay wealthy. He cites research from respected economists Raj Chetty, John Friedmann, Emmanuel Saez, Nicholas Turner, and Danny Yagan. It's an interesting read.

From the author: "Poor students who graduate from Ivy League universities (and their equivalents like Stanford, Duke, and MIT) have a much better shot at entering the top 1 percent than low-income graduates of other colleges. But these hyper-selective schools are also hyper-elite. A child from the richest 1 percent of families is 77 times more likely to attend an Ivy (or an equally selective college) than a child from a family in the poorest quintile."

Echoing the tone of the Atlantic article is Benjamin Wermund in Politico. His article, In Trump Country, a University Confronts its Skeptics, is written about the University of Michigan, its credo of providing "an uncommon education for the common man", and the reality that 10% of the population the University serves comes from the top 1% of wage earners, while only 16% comes from the bottom 60%.

Wermund writes, “It’s ingrained at an early age — ‘You’re not going to go there,’” explained Benjamin Edmondson, the superintendent of one school district in nearby Ypsilanti, Michigan, where almost every student is poor enough to qualify for a subsidized lunch. “Why? It’s expensive. Why? It’s not attainable.”

On a brighter note, John Gramlich writes in the Pew Research Center blog that the Hispanic Dropout Rate Hits New Low, College Enrollment Reaches New High. Using data from the Census Bureau, the author notes that, even as the Hispanic K-12 population has grown, the dropout rates has plummeted from 34% to just 10%. 

Gramlich writes, "As the Hispanic dropout rate has declined, the share of Hispanic high school graduates who enroll in college has risen. In 2016, 47% of Hispanic high school graduates ages 18 to 24 were enrolled in college, up from 32% in 1999."

K-12 Enrollment

In a September, 2016 post, we wrote about declining kindergarten enrollment around the state of Idaho, and the portent for future statewide k-12 enrollment. Sure enough, Idaho Education News reporter Clark Corbin wrote in an early November article, "Student Enrollment Levels Off for First Time in Years", that enrollment in Idaho's public schools increased by only 459 in 2018-19, after increases of 4300 and 3300 the two previous years. We'll do some analysis of the data in a future post.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

ESSA is the successor to No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Race to the Top (RTTP), the accountability plans required of states for receipt of federal dollars for programs such as Title I. Frederick Hess and Brendan Bell of the American Enterprise Institute are frequent commentators on education reform from the conservative side. In "Frivolous Ambition", published in U.S. News and World Report, they argue that the new act has caused states to set absurd goals for academic progress.

"...the state's (New Jersey's) new plan requires steady gains between now and 2030 that are about 500 percent a year larger than those under its previous accountability system."


"... Kansas' reading scores would have to increase more than 16 times faster than they did during the No Child Left Behind era, and math scores would have to increase, well, infinitely faster."

Here are the academic goals from Idaho's plan:

The goals for Students with Disabilities and English Language Proficiency (Limited English students) are, at best, very ambitious!

Refugee Destinations

Jynnah Radford of the Pew Research Center posted this interesting timeline of refugee resettlement patterns by state since 2002. The article title is "How U.S. refugee resettlement in each state has shifted since 2002". Here are Idaho's top resettlement country patterns since then:

2002 - Bosnia/Herzegovina (141)
2003 - Afghanistan (79)
2004 - Somalia (137)
2005 - Russia (362)
2006 - Russia (306)
2007 - Burundi (194)
2008 - Burma (264)
2009 - Bhutan (312)
2010 - Bhutan (335)
2011 - Burma (227)
2012 - Burma (189)
2013 - Burma (203)
2014 - Iraq - (292)
2015 - Democratic Republic of Congo (258)
2016 - Democratic Republic of Congo (528)
2017 - Democratic Republic of Congo (299)

Thursday, November 23, 2017


Recently, we used data from the College Board and from the National Student Clearinghouse to do an analysis of college-going rates among our students who took one or more Advanced Placement exams. We looked at the high school graduating class of 2016, and used NSC data to ascertain the percentage of students who were enrolled in college a year after their high school graduation.

Here's what we found:

The "Go-on" rate for students taking one or more AP tests was 81%; interestingly, that's just a bit higher than the overall "Go-on" rate for AVID graduates (77%). The rate for graduates who took no AP tests was 47%; that's just a percentage point higher than the one-year percentage of students statewide in 2015 (46%).

Now, you might wonder, aren't these the same students who would have gone on to college anyway? Well, some of them are, for sure. But the percentage of students taking AP classes has increased by almost 200%, even since the turn of the century, so many more students are taking AP classes.

These data also include a number of students who went on missions for their church straight out of high school. Additionally, some colleges don't participate in the Clearinghouse, most notably the service academies. We found a number of these students and included their colleges, but a few that we are certain are in college are still missing.

The "Go on" rates for AP test-takers vary a bit by high school, but the rates are much higher than the District and Idaho "Go on" percentages.

So, what does the destination pattern look like for students who participate in AP? 

So, the percentage of students going on to Idaho schools was just a bit lower than for the general population (about 2/3 to Idaho schools). Just under 40% of AP test-takers go out of state for college.

5 or More AP Tests

We were also able to look at the students who took 5 or more Advanced Placement tests during their high school careers. typically these students would obtain credit or waivers for at least 15 credits; some would be granted many more.  This was a group of 210 students.

Note that among this group, fewer than half went to school in the state of Idaho. Of those that did 45 attended BSU, 34 went to the University of Idaho, and 7 to The College of Idaho. The most popular out-of-state destination was the University of Utah, with 19, followed by Gonzaga University (5) and BYU (5).

Otherwise, the destinations of these students were widespread. 3 went to each of the University of Puget Sound (WA), Whitman College (WA), California Polytechnic, and Westminster College (UT). 2 attended each of the University of Colorado, USC, Colorado State, Lewis and Clark (OR), University of Portland, University of Washington, Washington University (MO), Princeton (NJ), the University of Oklahoma, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Among the other noteworthy colleges attended by a District student who took 5 or more AP tests were Cal-Berkeley, Stanford, Santa Clara (CA), Northwestern (IL), Purdue, Harvard, Wellesley (MA), MIT, University of Michigan, Duke, Brown (RI), Smith (MA), and Emerson (MA), an impressive assortment of top-notch colleges.

Of course, we know that many District students choose options other than 4-year colleges. The Dennis Career Technical Center offers a a large number of courses designed to prepare students for good-paying jobs in the local economy, from Auto Body, Heavy Diesel and Welding to Electrical, CNA and HVAC. Many Boise students choose to enroll in these programs and earn licenses in one of these career fields, and the District is expanding offerings at the Dennis Center to provide more choices for students.