Information Services - Statistical Reports
Plans of High School Graduates: Class of 2003
The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education collects data annually from public high schools regarding the plans of their graduates. This report summarizes the data at the state level for the Class of 2003 and includes analyses by racial/ethnic groups, gender, vocational-technical schools, and charter schools. Comparison data from past years are also provided, as well as district and individual school data. It is important to note that the data represent the intentions of high school graduates and may not reflect what students actually do after graduating from high school.
Changes in Data Collection
Prior to the 2001–02 school year, data about the plans of high school graduates were obtained from the Year-End School Indicator Report, a survey of Massachusetts public schools conducted by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education at the end of each school year. School officials reported the number of graduating students by gender and race across nine categories of post-graduation plans.
In 2001–02, Massachusetts changed its collection system and began collecting student-level data through the Student Information Management System (SIMS). This report marks the second year that the plans of high school graduates are reported based on student-level data submitted by districts through SIMS. As a result of this new collection method, any observed changes in trend data may not fully represent actual changes in the plans of high school graduates from previous years, but rather may be representative of changes in data collection and in reporting requirements. Despite these limitations, student-level data collected through SIMS for this and the following years will ensure more accurate reporting by districts and will allow for more in-depth analysis of the plans of high school graduates in Massachusetts.
This report also marks the first time that summer graduates are included. For the Class of 2002 report, only students who had graduated by end of the school year (June) were included. The Class of 2003 report also includes any students who graduated by October 1 of the following school year (October 1, 2003). This reporting cycle will be maintained in future years.
Class of 2003
In 2003, a total of 55,987 students graduated from Massachusetts public high schools. Of these graduates, 77 percent planned on attending college or some other post-secondary institution (e.g., trade schools), 12 percent planned on working, and two percent intended to enter the military. One percent of the graduates reported having plans other than the ones listed above, and data was not available for the remaining eight percent of graduates (Figure 1 and Table 1). Of the graduates planning to attend college, almost three times as many planned to attend a four-year college than planned to attend a two-year college (74 versus 26 percent of all graduates planning to attend college).
Table 1. Plans of High School Graduates: Class of 2003
| ||Number of|
|Percentage of Graduates by Plans|
|Public College||Private College||Other |
|Native American||137||19.0||16.8||2.9||25.5||0.7||2.2||21.9||2.2|| 8.8|
Figure 1. Plans of 2003 High School Graduates*
Of the total number of graduates:
- 75% planned to attend college
- Private four-year college — 31%
- Public four-year college — 25%
- Public two-year college — 17%
- Private two-year college — 2%
- 12% planned to work
- 2% planned to enter the military
- 2% planned to attend other post-secondary schools
Trends over Time
The percentage of graduates planning to attend college has increased over the past twenty years, from 54 percent in 1983, to 69 percent in 1993, and to 75 percent of all graduates in 2003 (Table 2). Between 1983 and 2003, the percentage of graduates planning to attend a two-year college increased from 16 percent to 20 percent, and the percentage planning to attend a four-year college rose from 39 percent to 56 percent. Over that same time period, the percentage of high school graduates intending to enroll in a private college increased from 25 to 33 percent, and the percentage intending to enroll in a public college increased from 29 percent to over 42 percent (Figure 2).
While the percentage of graduates planning to attend a private two-year college has decreased since 1978 (from four percent in 1978 to two percent in 2003), the percentage planning to attend public two-year colleges has grown from 10 to 17 percent (Figure 3). The percentage of graduates planning to attend public four-year colleges has shown a general increase over the past 25 years, rising from 17 percent in 1978 to 25 percent in 2003. During this same time period, the percentage of graduates planning to attend a private four-year college has shown the highest increase, from 19 to 31 percent.
Table 2. Plans of High School Graduates: 1975–2003
|Percentage of Graduates by Plans|
|Public College||Private College||Other |
As the percentage of graduates planning to attend college has increased, the percentage of graduates planning to work, attend some other post-secondary institution, or enter the military has decreased (Figure 4). The percentage of graduates planning to work fell from 32 percent in 1978 to 12 percent in 2003. The percentage of graduates planning to attend a non-college, post-secondary institution decreased from five to two percent, and the percentage planning to enter the military decreased from four to two percent over the same time period.
Most likely due to changes in the data collection system, the percentage of graduates with plans reported as "data not available" increased from three percent in 2001 to nine percent in 2002 (Table 2). In 2003, the percentage of plans reported as "data not available" decreased to eight percent as districts became more familiar with the process of reporting student-level data through SIMS. It should be noted that African American and Hispanic students had a much higher percentage of plans reported as "data not available" (25.5% and 20.0% respectively) and this did have a significant impact on the remainder of their results. It is expected that the percentage of plans reported in this category will continue to decrease in the coming years. However, for 2002 and 2003, the relatively large percentage of plans reported as "data not available" may have caused all other categories to show slight decreases from past years.
Post-graduate plans also varied according to racial/ethnic group (Figure 5). In 2003 the percentage of Asian graduates planning to attend a two- or four-year college (80 percent) was higher than that of white graduates (77 percent), Native American graduates (64 percent), African-American graduates (63 percent), and Hispanic graduates (56 percent). The percentage of graduates planning to attend public colleges ranged by race/ethnicity from 35 percent (African-American) to 43 percent (White). The percentage of those planning to attend private colleges ranged from 18 percent (Hispanic) to 42 percent (Asian).
For the majority of the racial/ethnic groups reported, the percentage of graduates planning to attend college has increased over the past ten years (Figure 6). Between 1993 and 2003, the percentage of Native American graduates planning to attend college increased from 54 to 64 percent, for white graduates the percentage increased from 71 to 77 percent, and for Hispanic students the percentage increased from 54 to 56 percent. Despite some fluctuation, the percentage of African-American graduates planning to attend college has also increased over the past ten years (60 percent in 1993, 56 percent in 1998, and 63 percent in 2003), while the percentage of Asian graduates has remained relatively stable (82 percent in 1993, and 80 percent in both 1998 and 2003).
In the 2003 graduating class, 81 percent of female graduates planned to attend a two- or four-year college, compared to 69 percent of male graduates, while a higher percentage of male graduates than female graduates (15 versus eight percent) intended to work (Table 1). Over four times as many males as females planned to enter the military (approximately four to one percent). These differences extend a gender pattern seen in recent years. In the last ten years, females have planned to attend college at a consistently higher rate (approximately 12 percentage points) than males, although each gender's rate has increased over this time period (Figure 7).
Race/Ethnicity and Gender
The disparity between the percentages of female and male graduates planning to attend college also varies by race/ethnicity (Figure 8). In each racial/ethnic group, the percentage of female graduates planning to attend college was higher than that of male graduates. The largest difference was among Hispanic graduates, with 63 percent of Hispanic female graduates having planned to attend college compared to 48 percent of Hispanic male graduates (a difference of 15 percentage points). The smallest difference was among Asian graduates: within this group 82 percent of female graduates and 78 percent of male graduates planned to attend college.
5,763 students graduated from Massachusetts public vocational-technical schools in 2003. This group is comprised of students that were enrolled in vocational-technical high schools and not students that were enrolled in vocational-technical programs in comprehensive high schools. Of these graduates, 45 percent planned on working, 26 percent planned to attend a two-year college, and 15 percent planned to attend a four-year college. Four percent of these graduates intended to enter the military, three percent planned to attend some other type of post-secondary institution, three percent reported having plans other than those listed above, and data was not available for the remaining five percent (Figure 9).
The percentage of vocational-technical school graduates planning to work after graduation was more than three times greater than graduates from all school types (45 versus 12 percent). The percentage of vocational-technical school graduates planning to attend a 2-year college was also greater than the percentage of graduates from all school types with the same plans (26 versus 20 percent). The percentage of vocational-technical school graduates intending to enter the military was also greater than graduates from all school types (four versus two percent).
Of the 15 charter schools reporting graduates in 2003, there were a total of 426 graduates. Of this total, 62 percent planned to attend a 4-year college, 24 percent planned to attend a 2-year college, six percent intended to work, and less than one percent planned to enter the military. Additionally, two percent planned to attend some other type of post-secondary institution, two percent had plans other than those listed above, and data was not available for three percent (Figure 10).
The 62 percent of charter school graduates planning to attend a 4-year college was higher than the 56 percent of graduates from all school types with the same post-graduate intentions. Likewise, the percentage of charter school graduates planning to attend two-year college (24 percent) was greater than the percentage of graduates from all school types (20 percent). The percentage of charter school graduates intending to work was less than the percentage of graduates from all school types (six percent and 12 percent respectively).
Reporting by Individual Schools and Districts
Consistent with past reports, the data table beginning on page 9 presents the Plans of High School Graduates: Class of 2003 by district and school. Data for schools with fewer than six graduates have been suppressed.