The College-Going Pathway

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The figure above provides an overview of Kentucky public high school students’ educational attainment across the college-going pathway—from entering high school through persisting to the second year of college. The analysis tracks the percentage of 2008-09 Kentucky public school ninth graders who graduated from high school on time, seamlessly enrolled in college, and persisted to the second year of college. By following the same group of students as they progress along the pathway, we can identify where drop-offs in outcomes occur and, thus, which milestones merit the greatest attention.

As the purple state average line depicts, for every 100 first-time ninth graders who enrolled in a Kentucky public high school in 2008-09, 82 completed high school within four years, 45 seamlessly transitioned to college, and 34 persisted to the second year of their postsecondary studies. Note that the steepest drop-off in outcomes for this cohort occurs between high school graduation and seamless college enrollment. Moreover, in contrast to the same ninth-grade cohort nationwide (not shown), Kentucky ninth graders graduated high school in four years at a rate two percentage points above the national average (80%), yet seamlessly enrolled in college at a rate 11 percentage points below the national average (56%).

Use the interactive tools to examine how Kentucky students’ college-going trajectories differ across particular subgroups of students or across different schools or district types.

  • Select Subgroups: Check and uncheck the boxes below "Select Lines to View" to identify which specific subgroups will appear in the figure. Note that black lines depict college-going trajectories of individual high schools selected in the sidebar, while colored lines depict the college-going trajectories of various state-level subgroups of students.
  • Identify Subgroups or Schools: Hover over any marker along each line to identify which school or student subgroup the line represents.
  • Explore by Socioeconomic Status: Select the "Free/Reduced-Price Meals" checkbox to explore differences in the college-going pathway based on this proxy for students’ socioeconomic status.
  • Explore by District Type: Select the "County/District Type" checkbox to depict college-going trajectories of students by district type.
  • Select Specific Schools: Use the sidebar selector (in combination with the "Selected Schools" and "Weighted Average of Selected Schools" checkboxes) to compare the outcomes for students who attend different schools.

Select the "Quartiles of Prior Achievement" checkbox to depict how students’ college-going trajectories differ according to their quartile of student achievement on the eighth-grade math Kentucky Core Content Test (KCCT). The figure now reveals that 95% of ninth graders who scored in the top quartile on the eighth-grade math KCCT graduated from high school in four years (blue line), while 70% of those who scored in the bottom quartile graduated high school on time (green line). This disparity in outcomes between top- and bottom-quartile students grows as students progress from on-time graduation to seamless college enrollment. Top-quartile students seamlessly enrolled in college at a rate of 74%, while the rate for their peers who scored in the bottom quartile on the KCCT was 20%.