This week CPPP released a new data tool, the Texas Education Scorecard, which compares counties on the policies and practices that affect school readiness, education funding, and transitions to college. The results are literally all over the map.
All Texas kids should have a chance to succeed, but the capacity of Texas schools to prepare students for college varies significantly by community. According to the Texas Education Scorecard, large, urban counties receive their best grades at the early end of the education pipeline, while some counties at the border can boast lower than average high school dropout rates.
Using the most recent data available on the key milestones in a student’s journey through the “education pipeline,” from their first days in school to higher education, the Texas Education Scorecard assigns letter grades using five key indicators of “leaks” in the education pipeline. There is wide variation in the five pipeline grades for each county, and no county ranks consistently high or low at every point along the pipeline. You can see the sample pipeline grades for Harris County, as an example, below.
The Scorecard provides evidence that changes in policies, such as Pre-K enrollment and dual credit programs, can have a positive impact on how well counties are preparing students for college and career. While comparing grades between counties provides important context, it’s helpful to focus on data for a single county and search for relative strengths and weaknesses. Identifying the largest leaks in the education pipeline and what policy indicators may help address those challenges can provide policymakers and other education stakeholders with the data they need to patch the leaks and strengthen the system.
Texas needs a well-educated workforce to remain competitive, but our leaky education pipeline puts that future competitiveness in jeopardy. Despite the fact that a high school diploma is no longer enough to prepare students for well-paying jobs, Texas lags behind the national average of adults ages 25 to 54 who obtain an Associate’s degree or higher. Only 34 percent of Texas adults complete their degree, compared to almost 40 percent nationally. That’s not good enough for Texas.
To help address the skills gap in Texas, Governor Abbott announced a new state goal yesterday to ensure that 60 percent of Texans ages 25-34 obtain a postsecondary degree by the year 2030. The Texas Education Scorecard can help communities and policymakers achieve that goal by identifying weaknesses in the education pipeline at a county level.
We look forward to engaging with education and business leaders across the state to use the Scorecard to ensure all students are ready for college and career.