Year of Publication

2011

College

Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Executive Summary

The intent of this study was to determine which characteristics from a group of student, teacher, and school characteristics had a significant influence in affecting enrollment in education beyond high school. There are social benefits from having a more educated populace, the Kentucky political system has highlighted intentions to increase enrollment in institutions, and Kentucky has lagged behind the nation and most states in its ability to continue educating the populace beyond high school. Most of the previous efforts to examine postsecondary attendance decisions have focused on the demographics of students with the implication that those student characteristics are the major influence on attendance beyond high school. This piece has attempted to go beyond that assumption and consider additional characteristics of teachers and schools, since those attributes can be influenced by the state government and the majority of students will experience attributes of those two groups. Two different logit models found that the attendance decision was heavily influenced by student characteristics but also had connections with school and teacher attributes. In both of the models, socioeconomic status and ability measured via test appeared to be strong influences with those from higher socioeconomic status levels and those achieving higher test performances being more likely to continue with education. The decision to attend a college offering at most an associate’s degree appeared to be less influenced by other characteristics. Only teacher evaluations and class differentiation (allowing different classes to fill the same requirement) had distinct positive influences. Teacher rewards were found to have a negative influence which was most likely due to allowing teachers to choose their own students or classes. The decision to attend a college or university that offered at least a bachelor’s degree appeared to be more complex with influences from the location, the student’s view of classes, counselor consultation, and some degree of facility quality influencing the decision. Recommendations based on the analysis include changing classes to involve differentiation, providing additional postsecondary information to students in high school, attempting to maintain a minimum level of facility condition, and targeting able students from lower social and economic settings. Unfortunately, the analysis was unable to determine what causes a student to be set on a specific decision path and can only provide suggestions to encourage more students to attend a postsecondary college or university.

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