First NCAN Benchmarking Report Charts Strong Student Enrollment and Completion Outcomes

January 27, 2015

Bill DeBaun, Program Analyst

In December, NCAN released “Closing the College Graduation Gap,” our 2014 national college access and success benchmarking report. This report, the first of an annual series, is the result of NCAN working with our members and the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (NSCRC) to establish meaningful metrics about the outcomes of students served by college access and success programs.

Using data collected from 24 NCAN member programs, the NSCRC calculated an enrollment rate and graduation rates for the high school classes of 2007, 2008, and 2009 and an enrollment rate for the high school class of 2013. Developing and tracking these metrics are critical as the college access and success field increasingly turns toward data for improving program performance and understanding student outcomes.

The results of the first year of benchmarking hold both a lot of good news for NCAN members and a charge to keep moving toward closing the college enrollment and graduation gaps facing low-income, first-generation students. The enrollment rates for the four high school classes examined (71%, 70%, 70%, and 65% for the partial 2013 year) all exceeded similar rates for urban, suburban, and rural low-income high schools published in the NSCRC’s 2014 High School Benchmarks report. Even more encouraging is that NCAN’s enrollment benchmarks exceed those of four categories of high-income high schools.

The report also compares NCAN’s graduation rate benchmark for the class of 2007 (the only year for which there was a 6-year graduation rate) to the NSCRC’s “Completing College: A National View of Student Attainment Rates – Fall 2007 Cohort” report. The graduation rate of students served by NCAN members (54.8%) was approaching the overall NSC benchmark of 59.7%. This indicates that there is more work to be done to ensure postsecondary opportunities for traditionally underserved students. However, compared to the graduation outcomes of low-income, first-generation students from the class of 2003 (45.3%), there is also some evidence that NCAN’s members are moving the needle on their critical mission.

In addition to reporting these benchmarks, “Closing the Graduation Gap” profiles five NCAN members who submitted data for the report.

Work on the second round of the Benchmarking Project has already started. Next year’s report will offer findings that include both more NCAN members’ data and more data points. NCAN is proud of our members’ important work and performance. A student's ZIP code or skin color should not predetermine their educational opportunities, and the results in our first benchmarking report show that, for many students served by our members, these opportunities are being achieved. NCAN thanks the Kresge and Michael & Susan Dell Foundations for their invaluable support in pursuing and completing this report.

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