By the Numbers: The Yampa Valley's high school graduates

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Scott Ford

By the time this weekend comes to a close, about 400 local students will have graduated from the Yampa Valley’s four public high schools. What these students do next and whether they are prepared for it are questions that occupy the minds of their parents and teachers. Using data from the Colorado Department of Education and the Colorado Department of Higher Education, a reasonably good answer to those questions can be formed.

The combined graduation rate of these four high schools in 2011 was more than 91 percent. The statewide average for all high schools was 74 percent (see Table 1).

Not every graduating senior had immediate plans to attend college in the fall. Some who said they were going to attend did not. The Colorado Department of Higher Education reports in- and out-of-state postsecondary enrollment (see Table 2). Data is publicly available only for graduates of Moffat and Steamboat Springs high schools (data for Hayden and South Routt high schools is not disclosed because of their small sizes).

In summary, about 70 percent of the graduates from Steamboat Springs High School successfully matriculate to either a two- or four-year institution each fall. For Moffat County High School, this number is slightly above 50 percent.

Yampa Valley high school graduates by the numbers, 2009 to 2011

Of Colorado graduates attending college, 80 percent stay in state. The 20 percent who make the decision to attend a college out of state do so — in rank order — at institutions in California, Wyoming and Arizona. In addition, of those who attend in-state institutions, about 70 percent attend four-year colleges.

If more than 10 students from the graduating class of a high school attend a Colorado postsecondary public institution, that data is publicly available (see Table 3). The top choice in the fall of 2011 for Moffat County High School was Colorado Northwestern Community College; for Steamboat Springs High School, it was a tie between University of Colorado Boulder and Colorado Mountain College.

Perhaps the most important question is whether these students were ready to do college-level work when they arrived at school. Statewide, about 32 percent of students graduating from Colorado public high schools in 2011 were not college-ready in either their math, reading or writing skills (see Table 4).

Scott L. Ford has lived in Steamboat Springs for 21 years and is the principal partner in The Pinnacle Economic Research Group. Ford can be reached at scottford@pinnacleeconomics.com.

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