The results of an annual survey, released this week, show the majority of Treasure Valley high school students plan to go onto college, but not all of them achieve that goal.
Despite rising tuition and the questionable status of some college loans, higher education is still in the works for most high school students. The Treasure Valley Education Partnership found college enrollment has increased over the past several years. Fifty-four percent of high school graduates from the class of 2015 enrolled in post-secondary education. But 15 percent more indicated they were college-bound, but never made it.
Executive Director Jessica Ruehrwein wants to focus on that gap. "If they say they’re going to go out in the spring," she says, "and they don’t show up in the fall, what might we do as a community to support kids during those summer months to help get them there?"
Among low-income students, the summer months are a challenge at all grade levels.
"What we’re seeing from the data," Ruehrwein says, "is that our schools are doing an amazing job, but those students do not have access to resources outside of schools. There’s a summer slide. Those students are showing up back in the fall and they’ve lost a ton of their learning."
College advisors are a regular part of the high school experience, but the survey shows the majority of students have decided whether or not they are college-bound by eighth grade. According to Ruehrwein, "this illuminates the opportunity to continue investing in college and career advising at the elementary and middle school level."
On the other end of the spectrum, just 55 percent of Treasure Valley children entered kindergarten with the designation "ready to learn." And among low-income students, the number of pre-kindergartners without those basic skills ballooned from 60 to 80 percent over the past year.
"There’s definitely a lot more we can do," she admits, "to help prepare our schools and help invest in funding more pre-school education."
The Treasure Valley Education Partnership suggests the answer to a community problem like poverty is a community solution. "What we learned most is that there’s no silver bullet to this work. And this needs to be addressed from a community as a whole. And so this is more like silver buckshot."
Although there was no change in the reading proficiency for third graders, for low-income students, proficiency dropped 10 percent.
The Education Partnership doesn’t just provide research but collaborates with other community groups to recommend solutions.
"We have over 200 partners," Ruehrwin says, "that have been engaged since 2011 to focus on these long-term measures and goals."
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