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Students who follow the "traditional" postsecondary track--four years of full-time college enrollment immediately after high school--are five times more likely than others to attain a bachelor's degree, a new study by the U.S. Education Department indicates.

But only about one-sixth of all high-school graduates take the traditional path, according to the study.

The analysis was based on surveys of a group of 1980 high-school graduates, of whom slightly more than one-quarter immediately entered four-year colleges on a full-time basis. Of those, over half eventually earned degrees, the study found.

By contrast, fewer than 1 in 10 of the 40 percent of graduates who either entered two-year institutions, or attended on a part-time basis, or delayed entry subsequently earned bachelor's degrees, it determined.

The study also suggested that students who interrupt their studies before obtaining a degree are less likely to resume them successfully. Over all, it concluded, 28 percent of all students, 14 percent of blacks, and 16 percent of Hispanics who "left the persistence track" subsequently attained bachelor's degrees.

Students who transfer from one four-year institution to another, though, are more likely than others to earn a degree, it points out.

The findings, the report states, "should result in better decisions by high-school seniors."

Copies of "College Persistence and Degree Attainment for 1980 High-School Graduates: Hazards for Transfers, Stopouts, and Part-Timers" (CS 89-302) are available for $4.25 each from the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, (202) 357-6651.

Now that the first wave of school reform has passed, policymakers must move on to a more fundamental restructuring of public education, according to a study published by the Education Commission of the States.

William Chance, author of the 1986 ecs study, "... the best of educations," argues in the new report that state leaders may have been too optimistic about how fast they would be able to bring about improvements in the schools through changes in laws and regulations.

The report also includes a roundup of reform activity since 1983 in 10 states.

Copies of "School Reform in 10 States" (SR 89-1) are available for $8.50 each from the ecs Distribution Center, 1860 Lincoln St., Denver, Colo. 80295; (303) 830-3692.

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