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Redesign Issues

Pathway Diagram Reveals Troubling Shortfalls and Patterns In Oregon Student Completion of Studies and Credentials

Based on a decade of longitudinal data, there is compelling evidence that Oregon is dramatically falling short in its aspirations for student completion of studies and credentials – both in high school and beyond. The data show that we have much work to do to improve outcomes for all students, and in particular students from populations historically underserved.

The Education Pathway Sankey diagram shown below traces the cohort of Oregon public high school students who were sophomores in 2003-04 (i.e., the graduating Class of 2006) to depict the paths they traveled to whatever level of high school and postsecondary completion they achieved by age 25 (in 2013). Among the full cohort of 41,655 Oregon students who were sophomores in public high schools in 2003-04, 68 percent started postsecondary studies, but only 27 percent attained any kind of postsecondary degree by the age of 25 (nine years later).

Oregon Learns developed this visualization and is now making it available at this site as an on-demand, interactive tool. Visitors can call up student paths and progress by gender, ethnicity, and family income, as well as individual school districts and high schools. Note the methodology link at the portal to the tool. The methodology section explains the limitations in what can be displayed, in particular with regard to smaller high schools or the application of more than one filter that results in populations too small to render reliably.

Oregon Learns commissioned the data analysis and visualization at the request of the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) and the Oregon Education Investment Board (OEIB). These state panels wanted more clarity about the path that students take from grade 10 on and how many complete a postsecondary program.

Completion Especially Challenging to 40-40-20 Goal
While 22 percent of the Class of 2006 attained a four-year degree by age 25 (green strand), only 4 percent attained a two-year degree (top orange strand), and just 1 percent attained a certificate. Among the 22 percent who obtained a four-year degree, about half started and finished at the four-year level. The other half started at a two-year program or went from a four-year to a two-year and then back to a four-year program to finish.

Forty-nine percent of the entire cohort (brown strand) held only a high school diploma by the age of 25, although some of these students had been enrolled in a two-year or four-year postsecondary program at some point.

This is the most accurate picture ever constructed of the challenge facing Oregon and its students in achieving postsecondary success, especially at the levels implied in the 40-40-20 attainment goal.

The data also show how far Oregon has to go in its aspiration to have all high school students attain a diploma. Twenty-five percent of the cohort (gray strand) did not finish high school. Among this group, 14 to 17 percent of the cohort obtained a GED, and a very few completed a postsecondary program. Seven to ten percent of the cohort obtained no credential of any kind.