John White Says More Public High School Grads Went to College–But Not to State Schools! (Part 1 of I Think 2)

While everyone was having fun with my last post (which I will admit was a bit of April Fool’s fun on my part, and the attention was a little embarrassing considering the uber-serious tone of most of my writing), a few people were also finding my post, John White’s Spinning Wheel of ACT Scores: More Students Are Qualified to Go to College Except When They Actually Try to Go, where I expose how many of our high school graduates are no longer qualified to attend our state’s universities as a result of the GRAD Act-linked four-year admission criteria which were (almost) fully implemented last year.

Well, maybe it was coincidence, or maybe Mr. White and Friends found my blog, but don’tcha know, yesterday we got treated to this piece of good news from the data spinners mavens at the Louisiana Department of Education aka Louisiana Believes (What We Tell Ya):

Public school students entering college up 6% in 2014; Superintendent John White credits higher standards

Well, since that paints a little rosier picture than the one I’ve been portraying here, I have to fact-check this.

So the first thing I do is look for the report this is based on. I didn’t see it last night, but I found it this morning… seems they’ve reoorganized a few things and now the college-going reports are on a new page: Louisiana College Enrollment Reports

Well, cool! I actually have need for these data in my Day Job (you know, the one where I try to keep my institution open) so I’m pretty excited about this. In conjunction with other data in my toolbox this helps me identify schools statewide and in my service area that are being underrecruited to four-year universities in relation to their ACT scores and core completion rates. Unfortunately, this is the last year that these reports will probably be available (or at least usable) due to the Schroder legislation of last year, but that’s a whole other topic for another day.

But, since this is John White’s DoE we are talking about here, we have to fact-check everything.

First, let’s look at the primary assertion in the article. College-going rates are up 6% among public school students over last year, and it’s all because Common Core is great and all, and because more students are taking the ACT since it’s mandatory.

We know one part of that statement is true. The ACT became mandatory for 11th graders enrolled in public schools two years ago. And, as I’ve shown here, I have already confirmed that more Louisiana students are taking the ACT. Since more students are taking the ACT, more students are getting the magic! 18 ACT composite that John White claims qualifies students for college, even though in our state it really doesn’t.

As for Common Core–since that was only fully implemented (sort of, since we don’t have an agreement with Pearson’s) this year, the students graduating from high school last year were mostly unaffected by Common Core. Most did complete the Regents’/TOPS Core 4 college prep curriculum, and while the two bear some relationship going back to the inception of Common Core, they aren’t the same thing.

So now we are fact-checking this: College-going rates are up 6% among public school high school graduates last year.

Well, according to the data that are available on the College Enrollment Reports page, this is true. In the fall of 2014, 22,972 of Louisiana’s high school graduates went to postsecondary institutions, compared to 21,744 in fall 2013. This is an increase of 5.6%, which rounded up is 6%.

But we have to look at a couple other things to see if this is a meaningful, statistically significant increase.

First, what was the percentage increase in college-going graduates compared to the total number of graduates? While it may seem that all I do is criticize, I do give credit where credit is due… and one thing our state is improving significantly in is that we are graduating more students both overall and with Core 4.

So for this increase to be significant, it would result in a greater percentage of students going to college compared to the overall number of graduates.

In 13-14, 57.7% of high school graduates enrolled in postsecondary institutions in the fall after graduation.

In 14-15, this percentage rose to 59.2%, or an increase of 1.5%. It’s not 6%, but that is an increase. That’s actually the figure that means something.

The other things we need to look at are:

  • is the college-going rate keeping up with the increase in the number of total graduates and the number and percentage of graduates completing the college-prep Core 4?
  • where are these students going? Are more going to two versus four years? Are they going to our public colleges and universities or are they going elsewhere? Are they going to in-state privates or out of state?

In order to look at (1), I need to compare what John White’s DoE has just posted against the corresponding data that the Board of Regents releases to those of us in the enrollment management and admissions/recruiting community every year… our STS (State Transcript System) Core 4 reports. These reports show, by parish, “sponsor” (aka school district or operator), and high school how many students graduated overall and with Core 4. My findings so far, based on these Core 4 reports and the public enrollment reports available through Regents is that while more students are graduating, and graduating with Core, this isn’t translating to more students going to college. This is a different finding entirely than what White is asserting, so I definitely have to fact check this. If I’m wrong, then I’m happy to revise my findings.

Herein lies my first problem. In order to do this, I need to replicate White’s data. Which I should be able to do, because if these all come from STS, the number of graduates reported on the Board of Regents side should match what’s on the DoE side. It’s not easy, because our Core 4 reports list ALL graduates, not just publics. But it’s not THAT difficult because since Regents provides it in a handy pivot report, all I have to do is filter for public sponsors by LDE sponsor code. For those trying this at home, that means looking for any sponsor code beginning with zero (traditional parish school districts by parish code), 3 (publicly funded charters), A (alternative schools) and 3A (charter alternative schools). Other LDE sponsor codes are for private and parochial schools, so they don’t count.

So, according to yesterday’s 2014 college going report, 38,785 students graduated from Louisiana’s public schools last year. But according to the Regents’ STS Core 4 report, there are 38,326 public school graduates. Hmm, that’s a difference of 459 students, or a little over 1%. Not a huge number, but they should match. There’s even more of a problem with last year’s data – LDoE reported 37,655, where I only see 36,424 public grads in the Regents’ report, for a difference of 1231 students or a 3.3% difference.

And everyone knows that if you can’t replicate data, they aren’t reliable. And one of the things I have asserted over and over again is that if you have access to the same data that I have… and all are from external sources that can be replicated… you will come up with the same things that I do.

So this indicates that either (1) the Board of Regents data are wrong (2) the LDoE data are wrong or (3) I’m not finding all the public grads in the Regents’ reports, meaning that I’m wrong.

I’m actually willing to concede (3) if it’s true since I’m an honest researcher.

On the other hand, John White has been caught lying on occasion.

One thing that I didn’t consider… Does LDoE count publicly funded voucher students in private schools public grads, or private?

OK, well now that I’m really sure I’m not going to be able to verify LDoE’s latest data spew, let’s go on to one more thing that we can (sort of) verify, at least if said data spew has any validity whatsoever.

Where did students go?

We do know that first time freshman enrollment at public institutions was almost flat compared to last year (there was a 54 student increase, or .01%), with a slight decrease in four-year enrollment and a marked decrease in regional university enrollment, especially among the three public HBCUs. This can be verified against official Board of Regents data.

So this means that if 1228 more Louisiana high school graduates went to college last year, and only 54 more went to our public colleges and universities, that means that 1174 students, or 96% of the increased number of college-going high school grads went SOMEWHERE ELSE BESIDES LOUISIANA’S PUBLIC COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES!

So where’d they go? Southern Miss? Jackson State? Dillard University? University of Phoenix? Blue Cliff in Metairie? (All these schools come up in the IPEDS radar, BTW.)

Well, the LDoE doesn’t drill down that far for our benefit, although since they are basing this off of National Student Clearinghouse data, they sure know.

But we can see where students are going to out of state schools. This is important to look at since John White also asserted that more minority and low-income students are going to colleges versus last year. But since they aren’t going to our state’s HBCUs and regionals, heck, they aren’t going to our state’s colleges period, some of them are going out of state.

The state average is currently 92% in state. Here are some of the schools with the highest proportion of students going out of state:

  • Renew Accelerated West Bank: 33% in state
  • Kilbourne High School: 40% in state
  • Miller-McCoy: 54% in state (last year it was 72% in state)
  • Pickering High School: 62% in state
  • Centerville High School: 67% in state
  • Mt. Hermon High School: 71% in state
  • Vidalia High School: 73% in state
  • Morehouse Parish (classified as a black high poverty parish): 76% in state

Many of the RSD-NO schools are up there on the list–most in the 80% in-state range–but looking at these new data indicates that students in poor, rural areas are also increasingly forced to go to school out of state. So, yeah, John White, more minority and poor kids ARE going to college. OUT OF STATE!

No wonder why many of our regionals and HBCUs are shrinking.

I say it again… the state minimum admission criteria are doing more to keep students OUT of college than IN college.

Once I find out how to deal with the disparity in the number of graduates according to John White vs. the Board of Regents, I’ll be back with more–especially with my gap analysis showing how many students are NOT going ANYWHERE.

But these new data further support my assertion that our state’s colleges and universities should be growing, but instead out of state schools are here having a field day with the kids who are no longer able to go to our public universities. And that’s not even factoring in the effect of tuition increases. Once TOPS is decoupled from tuition, and we go to what is likely to be an almost completely student-funded system of higher education, watch the exodus of our students out of state speed up exponentially.


10 thoughts on “John White Says More Public High School Grads Went to College–But Not to State Schools! (Part 1 of I Think 2)

  1. Reblogged this on Education Talk New Orleans and commented:
    My question is why hasn’t the Recovery School District been able to produce more students scoring high enough to enter 4 year colleges in universities in our state? Why after 9 years in Post Katrina New Orleans where the RSD has not had a teacher’s union or school board to contend with, where they have had extra tax dollars and philanthropic dollars, has the RSD failed to produce better results? The supporters of privatization keep comparing the RSD results to pre Katrina. That is an apples to oranges comparison considering they are comparing neighborhood schools to a forced parent choice system and many of the variables in tests and test scoring have changed. Even the grading scale for how we rate schools has changed as well as about twenty thousand of our poorest children did not return to the city, it’s impossible to make comparisons. So, let’s compare the RSD to itself over time? In doing that, the RSD has not been a successful entity. After taking in 107 schools scoring below the state average in 2005, at the end of 2014 only 4 RSD New Orleans schools are above the state average. John White can spin these graduation numbers however he wishes, but the bottom line is that he is the captain of a sinking ship when it comes to the RSD.


  2. Edutalknola, I agree with you 100%. The increased graduation rate has nothing to do with John White and certainly nothing to do with RSD, privatization, etc. since those were initiatives that were put in place and bearing fruit from before Katrina. In fact, I wonder if we would have seen better rates if schools had remained or had been brought back under local control. As far as test scores are concerned, I’ve said over and over again here that this is a rigged game and those scores are more related to poverty rates than the ability to succeed in college, and the university admission standards were designed to keep students out of college and shrink our state universities, not help keep them in college once they got there. I am going to be VERY interested to see what the debate is going to be over HB333 because it will be all about retention and graduation rates when in actuality the latest rounds of admission standards did not increase those significantly at all. I contend that GRAD Act and the years of higher ed budget cuts were part of a plan to do to many of us as what happened in RSD… label as failing, and then close/privatize universities that dared to try and educate our most challenged students.


  3. Good post. I was going to bring up some of these points tonight. Did you also notice the number of 2 year university enrollments? These are not 4 year colleges.

    However you touched on something that most people have probably missed, and the true source of the increase. The National Clearing House. These are not apples to apples numbers…

    We can actually aproximate and apples to apples comparison…


    • First, I’m really glad you found my blog. You along with a handful of other Louisiana political and educational bloggers inspired me to start my own.

      I did consider all first time freshman enrollments at all public institutions, from community/technical colleges on up. Overall enrollment across all institutions was roughly flat (+57), among all four years was slightly down (-132), and among regionals was down significantly (-818). Two of the three statewide institutions increased enrollment significantly (ULL and LaTech) and LSU was up too but not by a huge amount. The two years in aggregate were up moderately. All increases were offset by decreases at the regionals and HBCUs so overall state enrollment was a wash. IMO, the community colleges are just as stretched as everyone else and would have been hard pressed to be able to grow and serve more students, even though the students are out there for them to enroll.

      My contention is that new state minimum admission criteria were specifically designed to shrink regional institutions in order to force them to close/merge/privatize. I’ve been saying this since they first were announced back in 2010 and you can see my market analysis here: IF they were fully implemented without the TEMPORARY Developmental Education Pilot program (which was ALMOST not renewed for this upcoming year) that is exactly what would have happened on a MUCH larger scale. As it was, nearly all the regionals, especially the HBCUs took a beating last fall. What these new data from LDoE indicate is that the beating did not need to happen… that Louisiana is producing enough graduates for all our institutions from community college to flagship.

      Since LDoE has student identifiers, they are able to match data from ACT (at least the state scores, anyway) and National Student Clearinghouse with STS. They can even get student level data matched against Regents enrollment data to pick up any Louisiana public students not in Clearinghouse (there aren’t many, but there are some). So they know exactly where students did and didn’t go. They have the capability to report how many students are going to publics vs. privates, not just 2 yr/4 yr or in state/out of state. They didn’t, but they certainly can. I will admit this is a limitation I have with the data sources I have available to me since I do not have student identifiers. I can calculate impacts pretty closely but it’s not exact for that reason.


      • They actually did report the 2/4 year enrollment percentages and out of state percentages. What’s more the Clearing house is new. They just started doing that after White came. All those out of state numbers and many in-state private numbers were not reported before because we did not have that info on Regents!


      • Right… they did report 2/4 year and in state/out of state, but NOT public/private. That’s the thing I’d be most interested in seeing.

        One of the reasons they may be using Clearinghouse data now is because nearly all Louisiana higher education institutions are in Clearinghouse. I think there is only 1 institution left now that isn’t, and by the end of the year we will all be in Clearinghouse.

        I know that the Regents have the capability of reporting enrollment based off student identifiers because they used to do that for us in higher ed. Back before most of us were in Clearinghouse I could provide a list of my applicants to Regents and get back where they enrolled if they enrolled in state. They don’t do that anymore because they want us to get it from Clearinghouse instead. But they can. I’m actually surprised they didn’t do that for LDoE. Where did LDoE get their state higher ed enrollment data for the older reports then (2010 and earlier)?


  4. Board of Regents files and SIS files. The match rates were horrible. We didn’t have all the Louisiana colleges, many private ones submitted their data to BOR late or not at all, and we had nothing from out of state. It looks like 8% of the matches are from out of state. We didn’t double our college rate in 1 year coincidentally at the same time we used clearing house data.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: LDOE’s Graduation and College Enrollment Statistics in Context | Crazy Crawfish's Blog

  6. Pingback: More Kids Going to College? Louisiana Believes (What John White Tells Ya)! (Part 2 of 2) | LA Higher Ed Confessions

  7. Pingback: New Proposed State University Admission Criteria–Regents, Do the Right Thing and Approve Them! | LA Higher Ed Confessions

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s