MERIC NEWS LETTER

Grading Missouri on Higher Education

The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education recently released its ‘Measuring Up 2006’ report card, aimed at evaluating the nation and each state for performance in higher education.

The report card grades states based on six categories (preparation, participation, affordability, completion, benefits and learning). Each state receives a letter grade for each category based on the state’s performance.

2006 Sees Improvement
Overall, Missouri received good grades – aside from affordability, where Missouri and 42 other states received an F. According to the report, aside from higher education costs, Missouri needs to make its greatest improvements in preparing students for higher education and enrolling them directly after high school.

The state has made its greatest strides in receiving benefits from having a highly educated population, such as large voter turnout and a high percentage of residents declaring charitable gifts on federal income taxes.

Here are Missouri’s 2006 grades:

2006 Missouri Higher Education
Report Card
Benefits A
Completion   B+
Participation B
Preparation C
Affordability F

In 2004, the state's report card read:

Grades
Here is a more detailed analysis of each category, with strengths and weaknesses.

Benefits:   A
This category measures the economic and societal benefits that the state receives as the result of having well-educated residents.
Strength:  Over the past twelve years, Missouri has been one of the fastest-improving states in percentage of residents who have a bachelor’s degree. The percentage of the population aged 25 to 65 with a bachelor’s degree or higher has risen from 23 percent in 1992 to 31 percent in 2006. Also, Missouri has substantially increased the percentage of residents who vote over the past twelve years, in contrast to a decline of 5 percent nationwide.
Weakness:  Missouri has widened the gap between whites and other ethnic groups in the percent which have a bachelor’s degree.

Completion:   B+
Addresses whether students continue through their educational programs and earn certificates or degrees in a timely manner. Certificates and degrees from one- and two-year programs as well as the bachelor’s degree are included.
Strength:  A high percentage of freshmen at community colleges and four-year colleges and universities return for their sophomore year, at 51 and 73 percent, respectively. Also, 56 percent of first-time, full-time college students complete a bachelor’s degree within six years of enrollment.
Weakness:  The report cites no weaknesses in terms of completion.

Participation:   B
Addresses opportunities for state residents to enroll in higher education. A strong grade in participation generally indicates that state residents have high individual expectations for education, and that the state provides enough spaces and types of educational programs for its residents.
Strength:  Over the past decade, Missouri’s 9th graders have an increased chance they will graduate from high school and enroll directly in college. While the percentage of students graduating from high school in four years has stagnated, more of those who do graduate will enroll in college.
Weakness:  The gap in college participation between white and non-white, ages 18 to 24, is substantial.

Preparation:   C
Measures how well a state’s kindergarten through 12th grade (K-12) schools prepare students for education and training beyond high school. The opportunities that residents have to enroll in and benefit from higher education depend heavily on the performance of their state’s K-12 educational system.
Strength:  A large proportion of Missouri high school students enroll in upper-level math courses. Performance on this measure is up over the past 12 years.
Weakness:  Missouri is weak in preparation of eighth grade students for math and writing national assessments and having a small proportion of 11th and 12th graders taking and scoring well on advanced placement tests.

Affordability:   F
Measures whether students and families can afford to pay for higher education, given income levels, financial aid and the types of colleges and universities in the state. Only seven of 50 states received a grade higher than an F. None received higher than a C-.
Strength:  None cited.
Weakness:  Net college costs (tuition, room and board after financial aid) to attend public two- and four-year colleges and universities for low- and middle-income students represent 34 percent and 46 percent of their annual family income, respectively.

Missouri and its Neighbors
In general, the state ranks well compared to its southern neighbors, less well compared to those in the north.

Missouri and Adjacent States

State

Preparation

Participation

Affordability

Completion

Benefits

Arkansas

D+

C

F

C

C

Illinois

B

A

F

B+

A

Iowa

B+

A-

F

A

C

Kansas

B-

A

F

B+

B+

Kentucky

C-

B-

F

C+

C+

Missouri

C

B

F

B+

A

Nebraska

B

A

F

B+

B

Oklahoma

D+

C+

F

C

B-

Tennessee

C-

C-

F

B

C+

To view the full report, visit the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education at:  http://measuringup.highereducation.org/

 

Report by Michael Muin

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