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The postsecondary education and employment pathways of Minnesota public high school graduates: Investigating opportunity gaps

Region:
Midwest
Description:
In Minnesota, as in many other states, not all students have access to the types of educational experiences in high school that are likely to lead to high-paying jobs. If Minnesota policymakers and practitioners are to be well positioned to reduce achievement gaps that lead to different career and college outcomes, they must have reliable data on the postsecondary pathways Minnesota public high school graduates take, as well as information about differences in pathways and outcomes for different groups of students. Members of the Midwest Career Readiness Research Alliance collaborated with Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest to conduct a study that describes the postsecondary pathways of Minnesota public high school graduates, including the pathways graduates take within one year of high school graduation and their degree attainment and employment outcomes six years later. The study also examined differences in initial pathways, degree attainment, and employment outcomes for students with different characteristics. Using data from the Minnesota Statewide Longitudinal Education Data System, the study examined the initial postsecondary pathways of Minnesota public high school students who graduated from high school between 2008 and 2015. The study also examined the college certificate and degree attainment and employment outcomes of Minnesota public high school students who graduated from high school between 2008 and 2010. The study describes differences in initial postsecondary pathways, college certificate and degree attainment, and employment for students from different groups. The study found that within one year of high school graduation, nearly all Minnesota public high school graduates were enrolled in college or employed. There were differences in initial postsecondary pathway by student characteristics but not by rurality. Graduates who had disabilities, graduates who had limited English proficiency, Hispanic graduates, and American Indian/Alaska Native graduates were the most likely to be neither employed nor enrolled in college within one year of high school graduation. Six years after high school graduation, 48 percent of graduates had not earned a college certificate or degree. Thirty-seven percent of graduates had earned a bachelor’s degree or higher, 11 percent of graduates had earned an associate’s degree, and 4 percent of graduates had earned a college certificate. In addition, six years after high school graduation, 71 percent of graduates were employed, and their median annual earnings were $22,717. Finally, there were differences in college certificate and degree attainment, employment, and earnings by student characteristics. These differences remained when comparing graduates who participated in the same initial postsecondary pathway. The results of this study suggest that high schools might consider expanding access to college readiness opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds; targeting resources to students who are the most at risk during the transition to postsecondary education and employment; and sharing information with students about the earnings of past cohorts of students and how they differed across postsecondary pathways. The results of this study also suggest that colleges might consider opportunities to better support these students after they enroll in college.
Publication Type:
What's Happening
Online Availability:
Publication Date:
September 2019