UCLA Center for Community Schooling Data Report 1-DR-19

UCLA Community School Longitudinal College-going Data Report

College Plans, Enrollment, and Persistence of the Classes of 2014 to 2018

By:  Sidronio Jacobo and Karen Hunter Quartz

March 25, 2019


The UCLA Community School (UCLA-CS) is a unique partnership among the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and the local community. The school is part of an in-district reform effort and was developed as a K-12 school-university partnership school in 2007, just after the district passed a college-for-all policy. As a site of public scholarship, the school studies local policy implementation and outcomes in order to inform practice, ensure accountability to the community, and contribute to the larger knowledge base about broadening access to higher education.

The school is well situated to advance scholarship on college access, as it serves mostly first generation college-going students. The student population is predominantly Latino (81%) and Asian (10%), which contrasts with both the district and state demographics. The school enrolls more transient and immigrant students than the district as a whole. About two-thirds of the residents in the school’s neighborhood are foreign-born, primarily from Mexico, Central America, and Korea—among the highest percentage of immigrants in Los Angeles. Compared with the district and state, a higher percentage of UCLA-CS students in 2017-18 were socioeconomically disadvantaged and were classified as English Learners.

This data report is a companion to a research paper entitled, Framing, Supporting, and Tracking College-For-All Reform: A Local Case of Public Scholarship (Quartz, Murillo, Trinchero, Neri & Jacobo, 2019). This paper describes the collective problem-solving process that unfolded over a decade, from 2007 to 2017, as researchers and practitioners worked together to expand access to college for traditionally underrepresented students. The paper describe three practical problems—how to frame, support, and track a college-for-all reform effort—and details how grappling with these problems locally provides unique insight into the larger college-for-all policy context. In particular, the paper explores the role of learning supports, status hierarchies, and resources in realizing the college-for-all ideal. It also articulates a fundamental framing tension between social justice as redistribution and recognition and suggest that the notion of parity of participation guide policy and action.

As a companion to our policy implementation research, this data report provides methodological information about how the school tracks and measures college-going. In addition, the report describes college-going data for four cohorts of UCLA Community School graduates. The report concludes with recommendations for the school as it continues to strengthen its college going culture.

Research Methodology

The UCLA Community School Research and Accountability Committee (RAC) tracks the postsecondary success of UCLA-CS alumni using data from two databases: the UCLA-CS College Database and the UCLA-CS Postsecondary Pathways Database. The purpose of developing these databases is to capture students’ postsecondary trajectories, as suggested in the postsecondary pathways literature. Traditionally, research on postsecondary pathways posits student success can be examined as a longitudinal process of four major phases: college readiness, college enrollment, college achievement, and post-college attainment (Deil-Amen & Turley, 2007; McFarland, Hussar, Wang, Zhang, Wang, Rathbun, Barmer, Forrest Cataldi, & Bullock Mann, 2018; National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, 2018; Perna, 2006; Perna & Jones, 2013; Solórzano, Datnow, Park, & Watford, 2013). These phases have been studied in multiple contexts, with different sample sizes and tools, across student sub-populations, and through diverse conceptual models, yet several outcomes measures remain popular (Dynarski, Hemelt, Hyman, 2013; Iloh, 2018; Perez & McDonough, 2008; Phillips, Yamashiro, & Jacobson, 2017; Rios-Aguilar & Deil-Amen, 2012; Roderick, Coca, & Nagaoka, 2011). For example, college readiness is often measured in terms of a student’s academic preparation, college knowledge, and college aspirations (Kiyama & Rios Aguilar, 2018; Liou, Antrop-Gonzalez & Cooper, 2009). Research on college achievement has examined students’ well-being, their satisfaction with college, or their ability to persist and graduate from college (McFarland et al., 2018; National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, 2018; Solórzano et al, 2018). This data report shares findings on alumni’s postsecondary pathways as measured by outcomes that are commonly reported in publications by postsecondary institutions as well as federal and state government agencies. Since 2014, researchers and staff have collected and analyzed three outcome measures and/or phases to understand and assess alumni graduates’ postsecondary pathways. These three measures are:

1. Postsecondary Educational Plans
2. Immediate College Enrollment
3. College Persistence

Postsecondary Educational Plans. UCLA-CS uses students’ postsecondary enrollment plans to calculate a “college-going rate”. Since 2014, UCLA-CS has collected data on graduating seniors’ college application process, including submissions, acceptances, and commitments. Postsecondary educational plans are collected by the school through student surveys, check-ins throughout the school-year, and informal “exit interviews” conducted by the college counselor.

Immediate College Enrollment. The annual percentage of high school graduates who enroll in two or four year colleges in the fall immediately following high school is known as the immediate college enrollment rate (McFarland et al., 2018). UCLA-CS uses this definition to measure the second college-going outcome. This measure, as well as the college persistence measure, are collected in two stages.

First, the school contracts with the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC), a non-profit organization that provides college-enrollment data on college students across most colleges and universities in the United States. The NSC provides aggregated and detailed reports three times a year (Fall, Spring, and Summer) on college enrollment for up to eight years after a student’s high school graduation. The reports include demographic information such as enrollment by gender, race/ethnicity, socio-economic status, and other variables. The detailed report provides in-depth data on individual students’ college enrollment term-by term and per institution of attendance. While the NSC aggregate report may not provide detailed information about each student’s college enrollment, the aggregate report may still include a student’s enrollment status. For example, the 2017 April Aggregate Report stated in 2015-2016 the NSC did not have information for 14 students out of 75 while the detailed report did not have information for 21 students. One group whose college enrollment may be particularly underreported is undocumented students who are more difficult to track because they may lack a Social Security Number. Another reason may be that a student may have opted-out from allowing their institution to share identifiable information about their enrollment status.

Second, in response to the missing data from the NSC reports, the RAC collects follow up data from alumni who are missing from the NSC data. Multiple approaches to data collection are used, including surveys and individual follow-ups conducted with teachers, counselors, and other staff personnel.

College Persistence. The college persistence rate measures the percentage of students who immediately enrolled in college and persisted into their second year. To track graduates’ persistence in college, we used the same two-step data collection strategy described above.

College graduation is a fourth measure that will be tracked by the school. Research suggests students are no longer graduating within four years and that a six-year rate is a more realistic timeframe, especially when considering non-traditional students. Our outcome measure for college completion will be measurable in 2020 when the Class of 2014 reaches the six-year mark.

Findings: College-Going Outcomes

Table 1 provides an initial snapshot of the findings for the four college-going measures. We report both the percentages provided by the NSC (noted by an asterisk) as well as the percentages based on our follow-up data collection, as described above.

Measure 1: Postsecondary Plans

Figure 1 summarizes graduates’ postsecondary plans to attend two-year and four-year colleges. The percentage of graduates planning to enroll to college has remained constant from 96% in 2014 to 98% in June 2018. Between 2014 and 2017, year-to-year results showed growth in the percentage of graduates planning to attend a four-year college/university (59% in 2014 to 68% in 2017). The most recent graduating class of 2018 had the highest proportion of students (40%) who intended to enroll at a community college out of the last five graduating cohorts.

Figures 2 and 3 disaggregate student postsecondary plans by gender. In 2014, a higher proportion of female students (63%) planned to attend a four-year college than male students (40%). In 2015, about four out of five female students (82%) reported that they planned to enroll to a four-year college. In 2018, 68% of female students and 51% of male students planned to enroll at a four-year college. In each cohort, female students have been more likely to attend a four-year college than men.

Disaggregating postsecondary plans data by race/ethnicity, Figure 4 shows that, before 2018, there was a general upward trend of Latino students who planned to attend a four-year college (56% in 2014 to 69% in 2017).

Disaggregating postsecondary plans data by race/ethnicity, Figure 4 shows that, before 2018, there was a general upward trend of Latino students who planned to attend a four-year college (56% in 2014 to 69% in 2017).

Measure 2: Immediate College Enrollment

Figure 5 highlights immediate college enrollment for the graduation cohorts 2014-2017 (N=413). Since 2014, the percentage of students who enroll immediately in college has increased. In 2014, 74% of the graduating class enrolled immediately in college, while in 2017, 86% of the graduating class enrolled immediately in a two-year or four-year college.

Disaggregated results highlight subgroup comparisons by gender and race/ethnicity. Each year, female students (Figure 6) have enrolled at higher rates to four-year colleges immediately after college in comparison to male (Figure 7) and Latino students (Figure 8). For example, in each cohort, over 50% of female graduates immediately enrolled at a four-year college from 2014 to 2017.

It is important to note, since 2014, there has been a steady increase in Latino students who are immediately enrolling in college. For example, in 2014 only 35% enrolled in a 4-year college. By 2017, this figure had almost doubled (61%).

As Figure 9 displays, UCLA-CS has higher rates of students enrolling immediately in 4-year colleges, compared with district and national rates. In 2016, 60% of UCLA-CS graduates enrolled in a 4-year college immediately after high school, while LAUSD alumni enrolled at a rate of 36% and students across the United States enrolled at a rate of 46%.

In order to provide a more accurate comparison, Figure 10 compares the school’s immediate college enrollment rates in both two and four-year colleges to national subgroup data provided by the National Student Clearinghouse’s High School Benchmarks 2018 report. This report provides college enrollment data on public non-charter schools based on school-level demographics and geographic characteristics. For comparison purposes, we include student enrollment rates for urban schools, differentiated by income and minority enrollment. The NSC classifies schools as “low-income” if at least 50% percent of their students are eligible for free and/or reduced-price lunch. High-minority schools are defined as schools comprised of at least 40% of students who are black or Latino. It is important to note that data provided by the National Student Clearinghouse is not comprised of a nationally representative sample but includes a sample of 4 million students from public and private high schools. As Figure 10 highlights, the school’s immediate college enrollment rates are higher than both the national group of students who attended low-income, high-minority schools as well as higher-income, low-minority schools. For example, in 2017, 86% of UCLA-CS graduates enrolled in a college or university, while students, from low-income and high-minority schools, enrolled at a rate of 56%.

Measure 3: College Persistence

Figure 11 describes the first year to second year persistence rates for UCLA-CS graduates from cohorts 2014 to 2016. For the Class of 2014, 46 out of 56 (82%) students persisted into their second year, while for the Class of 2015, 38 out of 48 (78%) students persisted into their second year of college. For the Class of 2016, 61 out of 72 (85%) students persisted into their second year of college.

As shown in Figure 12, 93% of women in the Class of 2016 who immediately enrolled in college after high graduation returned to a four-year college. In contrast, as displayed in Figure 13, 79% of male graduates in the same class persisted from year one to year two.

Figure 14 looks at the persistence data based on racial and ethnic background. Overall, the persistence rates of Latino graduates increased from 2015 to 2016.

Finally, Figure 15 compares persistence rates with national and state data. For the Classes of 2014, 2015, and 2016, the UCLA-CS graduates persisted at slightly higher rates than students in California and nationally.


Year-to-year results show a steady growth in the percentage of graduates enrolling in four-year institutions (49% in 2014 to 61% in 2017). Although not all alumni who enter college persist, our findings reveal that UCLA-CS alumni enroll and persist in postsecondary institutions at higher rates than our local district, state, and the nation. For example, in 2016, 81% of our graduates enrolled in colleges the fall semester immediately after high school, while LAUSD alumni enrolled at a rate of 63%. Additionally, our findings corroborate with other studies examining postsecondary pathways; students who enroll at four-year institutions persist at higher rates than students who enroll at two-years institutions. As more seniors enroll in college it is important for the UCLA-CS research team to further explore how college enrollment and college persistence rates differ by race/ethnicity and gender, and more specifically, at the intersection of both identities. We know that Latino male students are more likely to go to a two-year institution and are less likely to enroll or persist in college. The next concentrated efforts at the school should examine specialized interventions for student subgroup populations.

The Class of 2022 will be the school’s first K-12 cohort—students who started at the UCLA Community School in kindergarten and stayed through senior year of high school. Overall, this report on the first four cohorts of UCLA-CS graduates provides strong initial evidence that the school is developing a robust college-going culture for first-generation college-going students. The next frontier will be tracking college graduation rates in 2020 when graduates of the Class of 2014 reach their sixth postsecondary year.


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About the Authors

Sidronio Jacobo is a doctoral student in the Higher Education and Organizational Change program at UCLA GSEIS. His research studies the intersection of race/ethnicity, immigration, and class within broad-based institutions. A strand of his research focuses on college access. He currently works as a research analyst at UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute and as a graduate student researcher at the UCLA Center for Community Schooling. Sidronio holds a B.A. in Social Welfare and Latin American Studies from UC Berkeley and an M.A. in Higher Education and Organization Change from UCLA GSEIS.

Karen Hunter Quartz directs the UCLA Center for Community Schooling and is a faculty member in the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies. In 2007, she led the design team to create the RFK UCLA Community School. Her research, teaching, and service support new school development, teacher autonomy and retention, and educational reform. Karen oversees a portfolio of research-practice partnerships at the UCLA Community Schools designed to advance democracy, inquiry, and change.