Getting Students into College
Fellows: Nihar Shah, Edward Su, Min Xu
Data Science Mentor(s): Michelangelo D'Agostino
Project Partner: Mesa Public Schools
With over 63,000 students, Mesa Public Schools is the largest school district in Arizona. It serves the City of Mesa, a suburb of Phoenix. Around 75% of Mesa students who start ninth grade end up graduating high school, right in line with the national graduation rate.
Although 95% of these graduates intend to go college or other training, only 68% attend within two years of graduation. Six years later, only 26-28% of graduates have a two or four year degree. That’s a lot of dreams deferred or denied.
Many of these students are ready for college but simply don’t apply. Or, they get into college but don’t enroll, or enroll but do not complete a degree. Others are not prepared for college. We know, however, that all of them need post-secondary training for their future success.
In 2013, we analyzed Mesa’s education data – including students’ classes, grades, test scores, college attendance, and more – in order to identify these college-ready candidates.
We also identified students who are aiming too low – that enroll in a two-year degree when they could be attending a four-year university – and graduates who show up to college on the first day but never collect their degree.
The goal of this project was to empower Mesa Public Schools to identify students likely to get off-track and to target these individual students with the support they need to enroll in college, graduate and embark on a fulfilling career.