Few Texas 8th Graders Getting Post-Secondary Degrees

- AMARILLO -- Texas eighth grade students fall behind much of the country when it comes to getting a post-secondary degree.

        The results are mixed for our area though.

        According to a study from "Houston Endowment", less than 20% of Texas students who entered 8th grade in 2001 went on to earn a post-secondary degree.  That essentially means any education following high school.

        The panhandle as a whole is actually above the statewide average.  Individual counties and school districts are bringing down our rate.

        For example, for the entire region, the post-secondary graduation rate is actually 2% points above the statewide average of 19.4%.

        But, in Potter county, only 18.7% of the students went on to earn a post secondary degree.  That's 0.7% below the state average.

        In Randall, they're well above the rest of the state at 29.6%.

        While our numbers are mixed, one thing is constant.  Post-secondary graduation rates are lower among African-American, Hispanic and economically disadvantaged students.

        The formula for these statistics does not include students who left the state for higher education or military service.

        The senior program officer for the Houston Endowment says there is good news.  The numbers are going up.

        "Roughly one in five kids who start 8th grade in Texas go on to get a college certificate, again, this can be workforce oriented certificates or degrees within a normal time period.  One in five.  Texas probably needs to do a lot better than that."  Said George Grainger of the Houston Endowment.

        Grainger says they actually borrowed the formula for calculating 8th grade post-secondary graduation rates from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB).

        This index tracked every Texas student who entered 8th grade in 2001.  More than 300,000 according to the Houston Endowment. 

        Grainger says it's hard to compare Texas' numbers with other states since they don't collect this type of data.  But, he says Texas is lagging behind other states like California and Massachusetts.

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