Project Will Tell High Schools How Well
They’re Preparing Students for College Success

School Districts, Foundation Join Researcher to Develop Database

RICHARDSON, Texas (Nov. 13, 2006) — Texas educators will soon have a place to go for concrete answers to whether their students go on to college and how well they do there.

The Texas Schools Project at The University of Texas at Dallas is developing the College Transition and Performance Project, a largely automated historical database that tracks the progress of graduating seniors as they enter public and private two- and four-year colleges nationwide.

Schools districts will be able to purchase high-school-specific reports from the project detailing what happened to students after they graduated; how their high school experiences prepared them to enroll and succeed in college; and how their transition and success rates compared to similar populations from similar schools across the state.

“The state of Texas has set ambitious goals for increasing college attendance and completion,” said Dr. W. Lee Holcombe, director of evaluation and special projects for the Texas Schools Project and principal investigator for this effort.  “This information is critical to meeting those goals.”

The information will be available to “the very people who do the real work in responding to the education attainment challenge in the state,” Holcombe added. “They will have access to the most credible answers possible to some of their most pressing questions.”

Four Texas school districts have agreed to participate in planning the database and testing and critiquing the reports during the nine-month development process. The districts are Plano, Garland, Fort Worth and Houston.

“We believe that this utility is a critical tool towards achieving one of the most pressing challenges

facing Texas: to increase the post-secondary transition and success rates of its increasingly diverse population,” wrote James Ashby, Plano schools’ director of assessment and accountability.

The project is made possible in part by an $83,500 grant from the Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation for Education (www.luminafoundation.org).  Lumina Foundation is a private, independent foundation that strives to help all students – particularly those who are underserved – achieve their potential by expanding access and success in education beyond high school.

Improving the quality of education afforded to low-income and minority populations is also a goal of the Texas Schools Project (www.TexasSchoolsProject.org).  TSP brings together data from multiple Texas agencies and other sources to support independent, high-quality academic research to improve academic achievement.

As of 2003, 25 percent of the Texas population age 25 and older had earned a bachelor’s degree, compared to 30 percent in California and New York.  By 2004, the increases in the post-secondary participation rates among Hispanics – the fastest growing segment of the Texas population – lagged considerably behind rates for whites and African-Americans and significantly shy of state targets.

“A real need to learn more about the transition dynamics is evident by the difficulty so many students have in succeeding in education past high school and the lack of good data about the cause of the difficulty,” Darvin M. Winick wrote in a letter supporting the project.  He is advisor to the Texas Governor’s Business Council and senior research fellow at The University of Texas at Austin.  “The student pipeline information that is currently available defines the size of the challenge we have in developing an educated workforce.  The work you plan to accomplish is a very important step along the way to meeting the challenge.”

About UT Dallas

The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor®, enrolls more than 14,500 students.  The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores.  The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs.  For additional information about UT Dallas, please visit the university’s website at www.utdallas.edu.