GAP Analysis Report 2015

In spite of rapid increases in the ethnic diversity of the region, Whites are expected to remain the largest ethnic group among its young adult population through 2020 in a state with a Hispanic majority for the 18 to 35 age group.

The 2015 report offers longitudinal data going back to 2006 for college readiness indicators pertaining to regional high school graduates through the 2014-15 school year.  Data about college readiness measured by TAKS/STAAR scores of graduates in English Language Arts, mathematics and both subjects, SAT/ACT results, advanced course/dual enrollment completion, and Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) showed patterns of progress similar for the state of Texas and the North Texas region. 

Scores for students of the region on the state TAKS/STAAR assessments in English Language Arts, mathematics, and both subjects have increased over time, and regional student scores tend to be higher than state averages.  Gaps in the achievement of ethnic, gender, and socioeconomic subgroups are apparent, however, in spite of subgroup gains.  Notable in the 2014-15 data were drops in mathematics scores in the state and region sufficient to reverse, for this one year, a rising trend for this subject.

SAT/ACT trend data showed almost no increases in percentages of students taking the tests in the state or region. The percentages of students meeting or exceeding the passing criteria for the tests tended to be higher for students in the region than for those in the state.  Trend data show slight gains in ACT and decreases in SAT scores over time.

Currently, more than 33% of high school students in that state and region enroll in advanced courses, which includes dual enrollment.  Percentages of high school students enrolled in advanced courses/dual enrollment have increased by about 13% in the state and region since 2003, with the rate of regional enrollment exceeding that of the state.  Breaking out dual credit enrollment since 2009 showed the region lagged behind the state on this college readiness measure.  Instead, AP/IB courses were more likely to be taken by students in the North Texas region, compared to those of the state.

This year’s report includes FAFSA completion data.  In both the state and region, although about 53% of seniors completed applications but fewer than 49% were complete.

Since 1996, the number of students enrolled in higher education in Dallas, Denton, Collin, and Tarrant counties has more than doubled, with an average of 50% of students going on to college immediately after high school graduation.  In spite of increasing college enrollment for all subgroups, there are gaps for African American and Hispanic compared to White students, for males compared to females, and for socioeconomically disadvantaged students. 

Students who enter college not requiring developmental education are more likely to graduate or to persist in their programs than those requiring developmental education.   However, students in the region who entered 4-year colleges not requiring developmental education were less likely to graduate than those of the state, in general.  Although lower percentages of students in the region who entered 2-year and 4-year colleges required developmental education than comparable students across the state, more than half of regional students who entered 2-year colleges required developmental education.  

Of high school graduates who entered postsecondary education in the region, 27% completed a degree or certificate within 6 years, which is similar to state data.   From 2009 to 2014, the employment rate for regional graduates of 2-year colleges was about 71% and for 4-year colleges, about 73%.  The employment picture in terms of employment rate and mean wage was slightly better for students in the region than in the state.