A nearly $79,000 grant from the Central Indiana Community Foundation will be used to help Marion County high schools track where their students go after graduation.
The money will be used by the Talent Alliance, a group of local leaders interested in education, to hire a data manager who will help schools obtain and interpret information from the Herndon, Va.,-based National Student Clearinghouse.
With information on 97 percent of all students enrolled in postsecondary institutions, the clearinghouse can tell high schools which of their students are enrolled in college and where.
The Talent Alliance, which is chaired by IUPUI Chancellor Charles Bantz, hopes the information helps high schools to see how many of their students remain in college—a measure of how well they were prepared by the high school.
The Talent Alliance also hopes the data helps high schools identify programs and services that correlate with higher rates of college attendance and use that information to improve matriculation rates among their graduates.
Indianapolis Public Schools, as well as school districts in Washington, Lawrence, Perry Meridian, Decatur, Speedway, Franklin and Wayne townships already have agreed to participate.
“Increasing the percentage of Marion County residents with a college degree can significantly improve the economic well-being of individuals and the community,” Gary Pike, IUPUI’s executive director of information management and institutional research, said in a written statement. “Increasing the college-bound population requires that high schools and school districts first have a clear understanding of which graduates are or are not going to college.”
Many high schools already obtain information on their graduates from the National Student Clearinghouse. For example, Indianapolis Metropolitan High School uses the information to track its graduates after graduation.
The data isn’t perfect and not all colleges participate, according to Indy Met superintendent Scott Bess. But supplemented with messages sent via Facebook, e-mail, texts, phone calls, campus visits and return visits by graduates, it helps the charter school score itself on how many of its graduates remain in postsecondary programs for at least two years.
Tracking that data—and seeing that certain groups of graduates were not succeeding post-graduation—prompted Indy Met to overhaul its curriculum at the beginning of this year.
“If your mission is to prepare kids for what comes next, then I felt there was a moral imperative to do something about it,” Bess said in an interview earlier this year.