Students who attend low-income urban schools with high minority populations are earning college degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math at far lower rates than are their peers from higher-income, low-minority schools in big cities and suburbs, according to a report released last week.
The National Student Clearinghouse, which collects longitudinal data from many high schools, found that only 6 percent of students from low-income, high-minority high schools earned an associate, bachelor’s, or advanced degree in STEM fields within six years, compared with 16 percent to 17 percent of students from wealthier urban and suburban schools with smaller minority populations.
Students coming from high-income high schools are more likely to complete a STEM degree than those from low-income schools, regardless of other factors.
SOURCE: National Student Clearinghouse
The clearinghouse’s third annual report, released Oct. 15, includes a focus for the first time on degree completion in STEM fields because of their potential to offer high-demand jobs that pay well.
The data are not nationally representative. They come from schools that participate in the National Student Clearinghouse, a pool of about 4 million students, reflecting 24 percent to 30 percent of a given year’s high school students. The report tracks the college-enrollment, persistence, and achievement patterns of students in the graduating classes of 2008 and 2010 through 2013.
Patterns emerge that correlate with the wealth, minority enrollment, and location of students’ high schools. Twenty-five percent to 32 percent of students who graduated from low-income high schools, for instance, enrolled in four-year colleges or universities, compared with 35 percent to 51 percent of those from wealthier schools.
Among students from higher-income high schools, 84 percent to 89 percent who enrolled in college stayed in that college or another postsecondary program for a second year, compared with 73 percent to 82 percent of those from lower-income schools.
A version of this article appeared in the October 21, 2015 edition of Education Week as Data Point to Gaps Among STEM Graduates