Tracking Eighth-Graders’ Postsecondary Outcomes in Harris County


Access to a quality education is critical in preparing children and young adults in the state and region to be successful in the new, structured economy. By the year 2020, 65 percent of all jobs in the U.S. will require some postsecondary education and training beyond high school.[1]

However, in Texas, just one-fifth of students earned a postsecondary credential within six years of high school graduation, according to a longitudinal study.[2] In a report, significant racial and ethnic disparities in college enrollment and completion were found among students in the Houston Independent School District.[3] Also concerning was the high rate of idleness: one-third of graduates were neither studying nor working after high school. Another study estimated that there were 111,000 disengaged youth and young adults in Houston metropolitan area.[4]

Using data from the Texas Education Agency (TEA), the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), and Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), we tracked the postsecondary and workforce outcomes of more than 267,000 students who started eighth grade in fall 1998 in a public school within the state of Texas for 17 years. About 21 percent of students from this cohort received some sort of postsecondary credential from a Texas college or university within six years of their anticipated high school graduation date. The share of students with a postsecondary credential increased to 29 percent when we tracked students for six additional years.

We created the dashboards to review and compare student outcomes in Texas, Harris County and 20 school districts in Harris County. Please click the “Texas Summary,” “Harris County Summary” or “School District Summary” tabs to view the results. Detailed statistics are shown when you move your mouse over the graphs. In compliance with our restricted-use data agreement with the University of Houston Education Research Center (UH ERC), which was where we accessed much of the data, cells with fewer than five cases were required to be masked in order to protect students’ identities. In the data available for download, these cells were marked with an asterisk (*). In the bar charts presented on this website, they were rounded down to 0 percent.

Our estimates are complementary to those provided by the Texas Tribune. However they are not directly comparable due to different methods and data sources used for the study. Click here to read “Data Sources, Methods, and Limitations” for our study.

In addition to providing estimates of postsecondary and workforce outcomes, we provide estimates for students who were neither attending a Texas postsecondary institution nor working in the Texas labor force for three selected years: 2003, 2008 and 2013. Specifically, these are students who may be enlisted in the military; unemployed; not in the labor force; incarcerated; deceased; living out-of-state: attending a postsecondary institution; or living out-of-state: engaged in other activities.

Support for this study was provided by Houston Endowment. The analysis was conducted by research staff at the Houston Education Research Consortium (HERC) and the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University. The data visualization was created by the Houston Community Data Collections (HCDC) team.

Houston Endowment
HERC
Kinder Insititute for Urban Research

For questions or additional data request, please contact herc@rice.edu.

Resources:

  1. Carnevale, A.P., Smith, N., & Strohl, J. Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements through 2020, Center on Education and the Workforce, Georgetown University, 2013
  2. A New Measure of Educational Success in Texas: Tracking the Success of 8th Graders into and through College, National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, 2012
  3. Holzman, B. Transitioning to College and Work (Part 1: Where are high school seniors from 2006-2008 now?), Houston Education Research Consortium, Kinder Institute for Urban Research, Rice University, 2018
  4. Houston’s Opportunity: Reconnecting Disengaged Youth and Young Adults to Strengthen Houston’s Economy, Kinder Institute for Urban Research, Rice University, 2016
  5. Life After the Diploma” storyboard, Kinder Institute for Urban Research, Rice University.
  6. Texas Higher Ed Outcomes: Tracking Eighth-Graders’ Post-Secondary Success” data explorer, The Texas Tribune.

Began 8th grade in fall 1998 267,358 students
Enrolled in college in Texas in fall 2003 103,117(39%)
Earned a postsecondary credential by spring 2009 55,557(21%)
Earned a postsecondary credential by spring 2015 78,255(29%)

Of the 267,358 students in Texas who began 8th grade in 1998, 21 percent received a certificate or degree from a Texas college or university within six years of their anticipated high school graduation date. The share of students who earned some sort of postsecondary credential from a Texas college or university increased to 29 percent within 12 years of their anticipated high school graduation date.

Estimates of student activities and educational attainment are broken down by gender, race and ethnicity, and socioeconomic status (SES) for each year. In terms of race and ethnicity, we present statistics for non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, Hispanic (of any race), and non-Hispanic Asian students; we do not show statistics for Native American students due to their small sample size. The measure of SES we use is developed by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and shows whether a student is “economically disadvantaged”—receiving free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch and Child Nutrition Program.

Background Characteristics: Fall 1998

These estimates show the demographic and socioeconomic composition of the 267,358 students in Texas who began 8th grade in 1998.

For context, 51 percent of students in the cohort were male and 49 percent were female. In terms of race and ethnicity, 49 percent were white, 14 percent were black, 34 percent were Hispanic, 2 percent were Asian and less than 1 percent were Native American. In terms of socioeconomic status, 58 percent were non-economically disadvantaged and 42 percent were economically disadvantaged.

Student Activities: Fall 2003 – Fall 2014

These annual, non-cumulative estimates show the percentage of students attending a Texas postsecondary institution, working in the Texas labor force or engaged in another activity in the fall of a given year. We divide postsecondary attendance into two categories: 1) attending a two-year, technical or vocational institution offering certificates, diplomas, licenses or associate degrees and 2) attending a four-year institution offering bachelor’s or more advanced degrees. Students who were neither enrolled in a college or university nor working in the State of Texas were part of the “other activities” category. In three select years—2003, 2008 and 2013—we estimate breakdowns of the “other activities” category. These breakdowns include the following: enlisted in the military; unemployed; not in the labor force; incarcerated; deceased; living out-of-state: attending a postsecondary institution; and living out-of-state: engaged in other activities.

In fall 2003, several months after high school graduation, 19 percent of students from Texas were attending a four-year college or university in Texas. Another 19 percent were attending a two-year, technical or vocational institution in Texas. A sizeable share was working in the Texas labor force—38 percent.

The remaining 23 percent were neither in college nor working in Texas. When we broke this share down, the plurality of students was not in the labor force (51 percent of the total that was neither in college nor working). Approximately 26 percent of these students were unemployed, 11 percent were attending a postsecondary institution out-of-state, 7 percent were engaged in other activities out-of-state, 3 percent were incarcerated, 1 percent were enlisted in the military and less than 1 percent were deceased.

In 2003, there were notable differences in college enrollment rates by gender, race and ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Women (43 percent) were more likely to attend a postsecondary institution than men (34 percent). Asian students had the highest rates of postsecondary attendance (60 percent) followed by white students (46 percent), black students (31 percent), and Hispanic students (29 percent). While 49 percent of non-economically disadvantaged students enrolled in college, only 24 percent of economically disadvantaged students did so.


Estimated Breakdown of Students in the "Other Activities" Category




Educational Attainment: Spring 2004 – Spring 2015

These cumulative estimates show the percentage of students who earned a postsecondary credential from a Texas college or university by the spring of a given year. The categories include the following: No postsecondary credential; certificate, diploma or license; associate degree; bachelor’s degree; master’s degree; doctorate or professional degree (JD, MD).

By spring 2009, six years after high school graduation, 21 percent of students from Texas had earned a postsecondary credential. By spring 2015, 12 years after high school graduation, the share of students with a postsecondary credential increased to 29 percent. In 2015, 3 percent of students had a certificate, diploma or license; 5 percent had an associate degree; 17 percent had a bachelor’s degree; 3 percent had a master’s degree; and 1 percent had a doctorate or professional degree.

In 2015, there were notable differences by gender, race and ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Women (35 percent) were more likely to earn postsecondary credentials than men (24 percent). Asian students had the highest rates of postsecondary completion (53 percent earned a credential), followed by white students (36 percent), Hispanic students (22 percent), and black students (19 percent). While 38 percent of non-economically disadvantaged students had earned a credential, only 17 percent of economically disadvantaged students were able to do so.


Began 8th grade in fall 1998 38,322 students
Enrolled in college in Texas in fall 2003 14,706(38%) Texas: (39%)
Earned a postsecondary credential by spring 2009 7,959(21%) Texas: (21%)
Earned a postsecondary credential by spring 2015 11,374(30%) Texas: (29%)

Of the 38,322 students in Harris County who began 8th grade in 1998, 21 percent received a certificate or degree from a Texas college or university within six years of their anticipated high school graduation date. The percent of students gaining some sort of postsecondary credential from a Texas college or university increased to 30 percent within 12 years of their anticipated high school graduation date.

Estimates of student activities and educational attainment are broken down by gender, race and ethnicity, and socioeconomic status (SES) for each year. In terms of race and ethnicity, we present statistics for non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, Hispanic (of any race), and non-Hispanic Asian students; we do not show statistics for Native American students due to their small sample size. The measure of SES we use is developed by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and shows whether a student is “economically disadvantaged”—receiving free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch and Child Nutrition Program.

Background Characteristics: Fall 1998

These estimates show the demographic and socioeconomic composition of the 38,322 students in Harris County who began 8th grade in 1998.

For context, 51 percent of students in the cohort were male and 49 percent were female. In terms of race and ethnicity, 40 percent were white, 23 percent were black, 32 percent were Hispanic, 5 percent were Asian and less than 1 percent were Native American. In terms of socioeconomic status, 59 percent were non-economically disadvantaged and 41 percent were economically disadvantaged.

Student Activities: Fall 2003 – Fall 2014

These annual, non-cumulative estimates show the percentage of students attending a Texas postsecondary institution, working in the Texas labor force or engaged in another activity in the fall of a given year. We divide postsecondary attendance into two categories: 1) attending a two-year, technical or vocational institution offering certificates, diplomas, licenses or associate degrees and 2) attending a four-year institution offering bachelor’s or more advanced degrees. Students who are neither attending a Texas postsecondary institution nor working in the Texas labor force are part of the “other activities” category. In three select years—2003, 2008, and 2013—we estimate breakdowns of the “other activities” category. These breakdowns include the following: enlisted in the military; unemployed; not in the labor force; incarcerated; deceased; living out-of-state: attending a postsecondary institution; and living out-of-state: engaged in other activities.

In fall 2003, several months after high school graduation, 21 percent of students from Harris County were attending a four-year college or university in Texas. Another 17 percent were attending a two-year, technical or vocational institution in Texas. A sizeable share was working in the Texas labor force—38 percent.

The remaining 24 percent were neither in college nor working in Texas. When we broke this share down, the plurality of students was not in the labor force (56 percent of the total that was neither in college nor working). Approximately 25 percent of these students were unemployed, 10 percent were attending a postsecondary institution out-of-state, 6 percent were engaged in other activities out-of-state, 2 percent were incarcerated, 1 percent were enlisted in the military and less than 1 percent were deceased.

In 2003, there were notable differences in college enrollment rates by gender, race and ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Women (42 percent) were more likely to attend a postsecondary institution than men (35 percent). Asian students had the highest rates of postsecondary attendance (65 percent) followed by white students (51 percent), black students (30 percent), and Hispanic students (25 percent). While 49 percent of non-economically disadvantaged students enrolled in college, only 23 percent of economically disadvantaged students did so.

Estimated Breakdown of Students in the "Other Activities" Category

Educational Attainment: Spring 2004 – Spring 2015

These cumulative estimates show the percentage of students who earned a postsecondary credential from a Texas college or university by the spring of a given year. The categories include the following: No postsecondary credential; Certificate, diploma or license; associate degree; bachelor’s degree; master’s degree; doctorate or professional degree (JD, MD).

By spring 2009, six years after high school graduation, 21 percent of students from Harris County had earned a postsecondary credential. By spring 2015, 12 years after high school graduation, the share of students with a postsecondary credential increased to 30 percent. In 2015, 3 percent of students had a certificate, diploma or license; 5 percent had an associate degree; 18 percent had a bachelor’s degree; 3 percent had a master’s degree; and 1 percent had a doctorate or professional degree.

In 2015, there were notable differences by gender, race and ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Women (35 percent) were more likely to earn postsecondary credentials than men (24 percent). Asian students had the highest rates of postsecondary completion (57 percent earned a credential), followed by white students (40 percent), black students (20 percent), and Hispanic students (20 percent). While 38 percent of non-economically disadvantaged students had earned a credential, only 17 percent of economically disadvantaged students were able to do so.


district map
Began 8th grade in fall 1998 3001 students
Enrolled in college in Texas in fall 2003 852 (28%) Harris: (38%)
Earned a postsecondary credential by spring 2009 361 (12%) Harris: (21%)
Earned a postsecondary credential by spring 2015 315 (20%) Harris: (30%)

Of the 3001 students in Aldine ISD who began 8th grade in fall 1998, 12 percent received certificate or degree from a Texas college or university within six years of their anticipated high school graduation date. The percent of students gaining some sort of postsecondary credential from a Texas college or university increased to 20 percent within 12 years of their anticipated high school graduate date.

Estimates of student activities and educational attainment are provided for all students—we do not disaggregate district-level outcomes for specific student groups. Disaggregated data are available from Houston Education Research Consortium research team upon request.

Student Activities: Fall 2003 – Fall 2014

These annual, non-cumulative estimates show the percentage of students attending a Texas postsecondary institution, working in the Texas labor force, or engaged in another activity in the fall of a given year. We divide postsecondary attendance into two categories: 1) attending a two-year, technical or vocational institution offering certificates, diplomas, licenses or associate degrees and 2) attending a four-year institution offering bachelor’s or more advanced degrees. Students who were neither enrolled in a college or university nor working in the state of Texas were part of the “other activities” category. In three select years—2003, 2008, and 2013—we estimate breakdowns of the “other activities” category. These breakdowns include the following: enlisted in the military; unemployed; not in the labor force; incarcerated; deceased; living out-of-state: attending a postsecondary institution; and living out-of-state: engaged in other activities.

Estimated Breakdown of Students in the "Other Activities" Category

Educational Attainment: Spring 2004 – Spring 2015

These cumulative estimates show the percentage of students who earned a postsecondary credential from a Texas college or university by the spring of a given year. The categories include the following: No postsecondary credential; certificate, diploma or license; associate degree; bachelor’s degree; master’s degree; doctorate or professional degree (JD, MD).


Cohort Size: Fall 1998

The analytical sample included 38,070 students attending 20 school districts in Harris County. The average district had a cohort of 1,904 students. However, there was great variation among districts. By far, Houston ISD had the most students—10,084. Cypress-Fairbanks ISD (4,123) and Aldine ISD (3,001) had the second and third most students, respectively. The three smallest school districts were Huffman ISD (181), Crosby ISD (291), and Sheldon ISD (303). In 2013, North Forest ISD was closed by the state and merged with Houston ISD.

Background Characteristics: Fall 1998

For each district, we provide information on the composition of its students by gender, race and ethnicity, and socioeconomic status (SES). In terms of race and ethnicity, we present statistics for non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, Hispanic (of any race), and non-Hispanic Asian students; we do not show statistics for Native American students due to their small sample size. The measure of SES we use is developed by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and shows whether a student is “economically disadvantaged”—receiving free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch and Child Nutrition Program.

For the most part, districts were evenly split by gender. There was, however, much more variation by race and ethnicity and socioeconomic status. The share of white students ranged from less than 1 percent (North Forest ISD) to 96 percent (Huffman ISD). North Forest ISD had the highest share of black students (85 percent), while Pasadena ISD had the highest share of Hispanic students (53 percent) and Alief ISD had the highest share of Asian students (18 percent). In terms of socioeconomic status, Houston ISD had the highest share of students classified as economically disadvantaged, 66 percent. Tomball ISD had the lowest share of economically disadvantaged students, 8 percent.

Student Activities: Fall 2003

In fall 2003, rates of postsecondary attendance varied by district. Cypress-Fairbanks ISD had the highest college enrollment rate (56 percent) while North Forest ISD had the lowest (21 percent). College choice differed across districts as well. For example, while Katy ISD had the highest percentage of students attending four-year colleges and universities (35 percent), it had one of the lower rates of attendance at two-year, technical and vocational institutions (20 percent).

Districts with higher rates of postsecondary attendance tended to have fewer students in the labor force. For instance, only 28 percent of students from Cypress-Fairbanks ISD were working. In contrast, 49 percent of students from North Forest ISD worked.

Estimated Breakdown of Students in the "Other Activities" Category: Fall 2003

Similar to the labor force patterns, districts with higher rates of postsecondary attendance had fewer students neither in college nor working in Texas. Only 16 percent of students from Cypress-Fairbanks ISD were neither in college nor working, but 30 percent of students from North Forest ISD fell into this category. Among students neither in college nor working, one interesting pattern was that districts with higher rates of attendance at in-state postsecondary institutions tended to have higher rates of out-of-state postsecondary attendance as well.

Educational Attainment: Spring 2015

In spring 2015, educational attainment varied by district. Katy ISD had the highest postsecondary completion rate (45 percent) while North Forest ISD had the lowest (16 percent). Districts also differed in the types of postsecondary credentials that students earned. For example, while Katy ISD had the highest percentage of students with a bachelor’s degree (31 percent), it had the lowest share of students with an associate degree (3 percent).

Note: Value 0 means data is suppressed.

Updated by Nov 6, 2018