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Horace Duffy

Brian Holzman, Horace Duffy.

As states incorporate measures of college readiness into their accountability systems, school and district leaders need effective strategies to identify and support students at risk of not enrolling in college. Although there is an abundant literature on early warning indicators for high school dropout, fewer studies focus on indicators for college enrollment, especially those that are simple to calculate and easy for practitioners to use. This study explores three potential indicators of college readiness that educational leaders may consider using as part of an early warning system for college enrollment. Using district administrative data, our analysis shows that an indicator based on attendance, grades, and advanced course-taking is slightly more effective at predicting college enrollment than indicators based on course failures or standardized test scores. However, the performance of these indicators varies across different student demographic and socioeconomic subgroups, highlighting the limitations of these measures and pointing to areas where they may need to be supplemented with contextual information. Through event history analysis, we demonstrate that the ninth grade is a particularly challenging year for students, especially those who are male, Black, Hispanic, or economically disadvantaged. These results suggest that educational leaders ought to consider identifying and targeting students at risk of not attending college with additional resources and support during the freshman year of high school.

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