The data, searchable on the Tribune's website, reveal wide disparities in how students from different public high schools perform at college. For example, Bolingbrook High School graduates had an average 2.44 at the University of Illinois, while those from Glenbrook South High School earned a 3.43 — even though college-bound students from both schools had similar average high school GPAs.
The average freshman GPA was 2.52 across all state universities and community colleges, roughly C+ work, based on the state's tracking of more than 90,000 public high school students who graduated between 2006 and 2008. In high school, those same kids exceeded a B average — 3.08.
Graduates who enrolled in Illinois' four-year public universities during that period averaged a 2.78 GPA as freshmen, compared with 3.37 in public high schools.
College and K-12 officials blame the performance declines on myriad factors, from inadequate high school preparation to high school grade inflation, newfound independence and increased partying away from home.
Educators say GPAs often improve following freshman year and are an important factor in gaining admission to competitive undergraduate majors such as business, and graduate and professional programs. In a tough job market, employers also look at GPAs, preferring at least a 3.0 average, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
Here's a common theme:
The disconnect between high school and college performance isn't unique to Illinois.It's noted that information on students from a particular public high school are available in public reports. Of course students from a particular high school would have to go to a public university or community college in Illinois. These reports do not track those who go to school out-of-state or to a private university. At that information wouldn't be available if fewer than 10 students from a particular school attend an in-state public university or community college.
"It is a national issue,'' said April Hansen, director of postsecondary services at the ACT company, whose college entrance exam is taken annually by Illinois juniors as part of state testing.
"There is a real lack of alignment (between high school and college),'' she said. "Kids aren't necessarily ready for freshman-level classes."
It makes me curious to know how Harlan High School students are doing since these reports are out there now. Not only are the colleges now accountable for the success of their students, but so are the high schools now!