Idaho’s go-on rate apparently is going downward.
That’s the startling, sobering message from the latest round of numbers from the National Student Clearinghouse.
Just under 52 percent of Idaho’s 2013 high school graduates have enrolled in two-or four-year college, according to the current clearinghouse numbers. This represents a drop from Idaho’s lackluster 2012 numbers, when 54 percent of graduates decided to continue their education.
The apparent drop comes as Idaho policymakers have made postsecondary attendance a centerpiece education issue.
Historically, Idaho’s high school graduation rates are among the highest in the nation — but its college attendance rates are among the nation’s worst. The State Board of Education made this gap a top priority — and the recommendations from Gov. Butch Otter’s education reform task force were written with an eye to improving the postsecondary attendance rate. The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation’s Go On Idaho campaign has focused on encouraging high school graduates to stay in school.
The current National Student Clearinghouse numbers represent a snapshot in time. The clearinghouse counts only students who have actually attended two- or four-year school, State Board spokeswoman Marilyn Whitney said. They do not include 2013 graduates who plan to attend school eventually, after entering the work force, serving in the military or completing a church mission. So the numbers will go up as students enroll in a four- or two-year school — and decrease when students drop out.
And the dip in 2013 numbers may actually reflect an improving economy, State Board president Emma Atchley of Ashton said Thursday. High school graduates may be taking advantage of a strong labor market and going straight to work, perhaps to earn some money to attend college later.
“We don’t view it with alarm, but we are very focused in preparing the pipeline,” Atchley said of the latest numbers. “It takes time.”