A new study published by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), the American College Testing Program (ACT), and the College Board contains interesting information that might impact education grant seekers and grant makers for the next decade.

The report, released Jan. 29 and called “Knocking at the College Door: Projections of High School Graduates by State, Income, and Race/Ethnicity,” covers the period from 1988 to 2018 and pinpoints a number of indicators that will affect education at all levels. Some of the highlights of this report include the following:

  • The number of high school graduates is expected to peak with the class of 2008-09 and after that show a slow and steady decline.
  • The Western region of the United States is projected to see the highest percentage of growth in elementary and secondary enrollments between 2001 and 2008, 9 percent. The South will experience a 5 percent increase, while the Midwest and the Northeast will experience declines, 9 and 2 percent respectively during this time.
  • The size and look of the graduating classes will vary widely from state to state. Arizona, for example, is expected to experience growth of 55 percent between 2001 and 2018, while Massachusetts is expected to see a decline of 2 percent. More than half of the graduates in Arizona will represent a racial or ethnic mix, with only 24 percent of the graduates in Massachusetts representing racial or ethnic minorities.
  • In the graduating class of 2014, one-half of the students are projected to be white, non-Hispanic, while the other half will represent a racial or ethnic minority. Hispanics are expected to be the fastest-growing ethnic group, Blacks are expected to remain steady, and the number of white, non-Hispanic students who enroll and graduate from high school will decline.
  • In 2006-07, 16 percent of public high school graduates will come from families earning less than $20,000 annually. The West is expected to see the highest rate of growth among low-income students, while the Northeast will experience the highest rate of growth in students who come from families that earn more than $100,000 annually.

Clearly, the results of this study deserve attention from educators, grant seekers, and grant makers. The field of education is now experiencing an “achievement gap” between low-income students and their more affluent peers. Low-income students–especially those who are minorities–generally score lower on standardized tests. If the growth of low-income and minority students continues, school leaders will need to address the “achievement gap” for several more years by providing much-needed academic support from an early age–and they’ll no doubt be searching for more funding to help close this gap.

Also, a projected decline in the number of high school graduates might warrant the use of additional funding to help students stay in school, graduate, seek postsecondary education, or pursue employment. Furthermore, the increase in minority populations in specific regions of the country could herald even stiffer competition among schools in these regions for grant funds.

Education grant makers should look at this study and take the results into consideration when planning for future funding. In particular, grant makers should examine how they will respond to the possibility of a growing number of requests for funds to serve minority students, to support projects whose goal is to close the “achievement gap,” to decrease dropout rates, and to prepare students for careers after high school for the next decade.

To read more about this study or to order a copy, go to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education web site. Detailed profiles for each state also are available.

See this related link:

Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education

Deborah Ward, CFRE, is an independent grant writing consultant. She welcomes questions at (717) 295-9437 or Debor21727@aol.com.