Florida not only has fantastic winter weather (my first-hand reporting confirms 80 degree temperatures in early January) and great football (go Gators!) but also the nation’s most comprehensive K-16+ student data system, allowing researchers to follow students from Florida’s public schools though college and into employment. Using longitudinal student records from the data system, the Hudson Institute and CNA have a produced a new Gates-commissioned study. A few of their findings are:
- Florida students with A GPAs are twice as likely to attend college as C or below students (79 percent versus 39 percent).
- 25% of Florida 9th graders participating in the Federal School Lunch program will go onto graduate from high school and enroll in college within two years of graduating, compared to 39% of non-Federal School Lunch participants.
- Florida students who complete associate degrees or certificate programs in heath care earn $45,968 per year on average, compared to $26,812 for those completing associate degrees or certificate programs in the humanities.
- Florida students in the Federal School Lunch program who complete college degrees have 8.4% lower post-college earning than non-Federal School Lunch students--$34,563 compared to $37,727—with most of the difference attributed to the differences in the type of degrees obtained (AA, BA, graduate degrees).
The study’s recommendations include providing information to low-achieving, low-income high school students about the earning power of associate degrees and certificate programs in high-return fields, like health care. One of the study’s lead authors told InsideHigherEd, “All we’re trying to do is find what C students can do most productively at the point they leave high school. The investments we’re currently making in the two-year-college system are extremely important, and the message that comes across very clearly is that too many students are leaving high school without having a terrific high school experience, then are going to community colleges and repeating some mistakes they’ve already made.” Well said.