Common Data Project – 2021 Report
The six New England states have shared comparable data through the NESSC Common Data Project that demonstrate evidence of progress in secondary school outcomes. This report presents data trends across the region, as well as by state. The report also includes data disaggregated by student characteristics across six indicators, which allow us to examine educational equity in New England secondary school outcomes by economic disadvantage (ED), English learner status (EL), disability status, gender, and race or ethnicity.
Over the last decade, the region has seen some noteworthy gains. For example, high school graduation rates across New England have been continuously trending up, and four-year graduation rates for multiple student groups have reached the NESSC target of 90%. Another positive trend is a reduction in the graduation rate gap between economically disadvantaged students and their non-economically disadvantaged peers. However, the data also reveal persistent achievement gaps that disproportionally impact historically disadvantaged students. Early data also suggest that the pandemic has exacerbated and deepened the existing disparities in educational opportunity and achievement. We examine achievement gaps for the region, as well as variations across states, in greater detail throughout the report.
Regionally, student achievement approaches, but has not yet met, targets for all high school and college outcomes. On average, NESSC states have not yet met the targets set by the Consortium for high school graduation (4-year); however, regional extended high school graduation (6-year) rates met the 90% target. College enrollment rates, too, have not yet met targets set by the NESSC. And while students persist into the second year at high rates, college completion rates for most student groups fall well below the 80% target.
Averages Across New England (2020)
Note: The NESSC sets targets for each of the student achievement outcomes and monitors progress toward these targets annually
Gains and Remaining Gaps
Many student groups are approaching the NESSC targets for high school outcomes, but achievement gaps persist. Since 2009, notable gains have been made in improving high school graduation rates and reducing high school dropout rates. For the first time since the NESSC started collecting data, the regional dropout rate in 2020 met the target of 5%.
Despite these gains, some groups of students complete high school at rates far below the average.
Economically disadvantaged students, English learners, students with disabilities, male students, and Black, Hispanic, Native American, and multiracial students across the region graduate high school at far lower rates as compared to their counterparts.
Disaggregating data by student characteristics, high school outcomes vary substantially:
Students with disabilities and English learners gain the most through the support of up to two extra years to graduate from high school, and economically disadvantaged, male, Black, multiracial, and Native American students all achieve extended graduation (6-year) rates above 80%.
While trends in high school outcomes remained relatively steady, college enrollment and persistent rates declined substantially in 2020 across the region. Despite increasing rates prior to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, college enrollment rates dropped substantially in the fall of 2020 to just 60% for the region, the lowest enrollment rate in the last decade. Moreover, college persistence across the region had remained above the 80% target since we began measuring with the college entering class of 2011; however, the persistence rate fell below the target to 78% in 2020.
No student subgroups have met the NESSC targets for college enrollment and few met the target for college persistence; outcomes also vary widely across subgroups.
While college enrollment rates for students historically underrepresented in postsecondary education – which includes economically disadvantaged students, English learners, students with disabilities and Black, Hispanic, and Native American students – have risen in recent years, an enrollment gap persists. Moreover, enrollment rates across these student subgroups decreased by multiple percentage points in 2020 across the region, deepening the existing disparities. For example:
Moreover, persistence rates have been trending down in recent years, with rates decreasing most substantially in 2020. Disaggregating college outcomes data also reveals that while certain student subgroups have met or exceed the NESSC target, others continue to lag behind.
Unlike enrollment and persistence rates, college completion rates did not decrease substantially in 2020. Overall, college completion rates for the region stayed at 70% from 2019 to 2020. Completion rates across New England have been rising gradually over the last six years. As with enrollment and persistence, however, college completion rates vary across student subgroups. For example:
Many other comparisons are possible, and we encourage you to continue exploring the data. We hope this report will inform efforts to close persistent achievement gaps and promote greater educational equity and opportunity for all students.