The Education Trust—New York
One of the best ways to measure the quality of an individual high school is to look at whether its graduates matriculate to and then graduate from college. There was no public data tool, however, in New York City that allows parents to learn how many students from a particular high school get to and through college—information that would ultimately enable them to make a more informed decision about where to enroll their child. We conceived of a project to address this because we had sought, without success, to have this data released by New York City governmental authorities, which possess the data.
We supported The Education Trust—New York (Ed Trust) to launch an initiative for New York City modeled after the University of Chicago’s To & Through Project, which identifies key milestones—in particular college persistence and graduation—and then publicly reports on the data by high school, enabling the public to know how well a high school prepares its students for college.
Our project is designed to reframe college readiness around long-term student success outcomes and to identify key inflection points that enable student success with the goal of providing transparency and K-12 accountability.
The Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) is a key partner. It created a tool linked to the National Student Clearinghouse data that will show the percentage of students from every New York State high school who receive TAP funds (families earning under $80,000 per year) and who are attending both private and public New York universities, and persisting there.
As many as half of all low-income students do not apply to or attend selective institutions to which they appear to be admissible (based on their academic record) because, according to various indicators, they struggle with completing college and financial aid applications. In fact, a large percentage of Pell-eligible students do not complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and thus do not receive any federal grant assistance. New York ranks behind 10 other states and Washington, D.C. for FAFSA completion by high school seniors. Access to data and the ability to understand it underpins successful FAFSA completion efforts.
A second project we undertook with The Education Trust—New York (Ed Trust) makes high schools’ FAFSA completion rates transparent and accessible—which complements our funding of the data tool (above) that links college success rates back to New York City high schools.
Ed Trust developed a data tool that shows the percentage of seniors with a completed FAFSA application in each public high school and school district in New York State. Users will be able to see a school’s current FAFSA completion rate benchmarked against similar schools (based on share of low-income students) and top performers. Users will also be able to see a school district’s current overall FAFSA completion rate and view the FAFSA completion rates of all schools in the school district. This data will spotlight success and build urgency and awareness around the schools that have low FAFSA completion rates.
Ed Trust will update the tool weekly as new data is released by the U.S. Department of Education and will use the tool to highlight top performers statewide and in each region of the state, with a focus on schools that serve a significant proportion of low-income students.