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Study maps Central Indiana students' transitions to college


November 27, 2012

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The greatest disparities in college access, attendance and success are high school diploma types and socioeconomic status, according to "Mapping Transitions to College," a study of 25,880 Central Indiana high school students just released by the Talent Alliance-a group of nearly 70 public and private organizations united with a common mission to elevate Central Indiana’s system of education to world-class status and ensure every individual has the opportunity to succeed from cradle to career.

"Mapping Transitions to College" resulted from the unavailability of a comprehensive database for Indiana schools to directly assess college attendance and success rates for high school graduates.

“Cultivating student success is central to providing the skills needed for the 21st-century workplace and improving the quality of life for students, their families and the communities in which they live,” said Charles R. Bantz, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis chancellor and chair of the Talent Alliance.

With support of the Central Indiana Community Foundation, IUPUI's Office of Information Management and Institutional Research worked with all Indianapolis/Marion County public high schools to enroll them in the National Student Clearinghouse High School StudentTracker program, which provides schools with information about their respective graduates’ enrollment and persistence in post-secondary education. More than 3,300 colleges and universities, enrolling over 96 percent of all students in public and private institutions, submit data to the National Student Clearinghouse.

Each high school, which included those in Indianapolis Public Schools, Speedway and Beech Grove schools and the Metropolitan School Districts of Decatur, Franklin, Lawrence, Perry, Pike, Warren, Washington and Wayne townships, was expected to submit three years' worth of high school graduate data to the clearinghouse for analysis and comparison to their national database. Four demographic characteristics were used to classify the students: gender; underrepresented minority status (Native American/Alaska Native, African American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, Pacific Islander/Hawaiian native, or two or more races); socioeconomic status (defined as being eligible for free or reduced-price lunch); and high school diploma type (Academic Honors, Core 40, general and other, such as GED, certificates of completion, etc.).

The data produced by the high schools resulted in "Mapping Transitions to College," which found the following:

•The greatest disparities in college attendance and success were found among high school diploma types.
oMore than 92 percent of students who graduated with an Academic Honors diploma enrolled in college, compared to 65 percent of graduates with Core 40 diplomas, 47 percent with general diplomas and 27 percent of graduates with some other diploma or certificate.
oStudents with Academic Honors diplomas were significantly more likely to graduate from college in nine semesters (44 percent) than students with either a Core 40 or a general diploma (10 percent and 6 percent, respectively).
•Socioeconomic status is a significant factor related to college access and success.
oHigh school graduates of low socioeconomic status were much less likely than their counterparts to enroll in college (63 percent and 73 percent, respectively) and were more likely than their counterparts to delay enrollment in college (11 percent and 8 percent, respectively).
•Nearly 67 percent of Indianapolis/Marion County high school graduates enrolled in college, slightly less than the national average of 68 percent and slightly higher than the college-going rates for Indiana of 66 percent.
•Females were more likely than males to enroll in college (70 percent vs. 63 percent) and delay enrollment in college (10 percent vs. 9 percent). Females also had slightly higher one-year persistence rates than males (77 percent vs. 76 percent) and substantially higher nine-semester graduation rates (23 percent vs. 16 percent).
•Differences in college attendance by minority status were relatively small: 66 percent of underrepresented minority students attended college, compared to 67 percent of non-minority students.

“This project was critical to understanding where our schools are in terms of post-secondary participation and to establishing benchmarks from which to develop a solid foundation for future growth and success,” said Roderick Wheeler, Central Indiana Community Foundation’s senior grants officer. “With these data, the schools can now follow their own post-secondary enrollment trends, develop strategies to improve those trends and measure progress over a specified period of time.”

"Mapping Transitions to College" is a unique study in terms of the number of schools involved, the defined geographical location and the collaboration of higher education and secondary schools to gather and analyze the data.

“This successful collaboration has the potential to serve as a model for schools and communities nationwide,” said Gary Pike, Information Management and Institutional Research executive director. “We will remain at the forefront by continuing this critical work to track and support our students along the education continuum so that when they are college or vocational ready, they are prepared for a successful future.”

Information Management and Institutional Research, with continued support from the Central Indiana Community Foundation, will work again with the schools in 2013 to broaden the scope of data collected and submitted, including information from federal, state, local and private programs, to track program effectiveness, student progress, graduation rates and success.

“This is simply an outstanding resource for our community,” said Shawn Smith, assistant superintendent of secondary education at the Metropolitan School District of Pike Township. “These data not only allow us to track our students' post-secondary persistence, which will help determine their level of preparedness, but will also allow us to continue to provide a superior education for our students.”

For more information on the Talent Alliance, please contact Rick Markoff at or 317-278-2035.