Study shows big disparities among Colorado high schools sending students to top colleges

DENVER -- A study conducted by A Plus Colorado found big disparities among Colorado High Schools when it comes to sending students to top colleges in the U.S.

A Plus Colorado conducted the study based on data provided by the Colorado Department of Higher Education and released the findings in a report, 'A Seat at the Table: Colorado Students' Access to Top Colleges.'

The study found 58 percent of Colorado high schoolers go onto some sort of post secondary education, whether that's a college or university or a trade school. Twenty percent of Colorado students attend top tier schools, defined as the top 150 colleges and universities in the U.S. including Colorado State University and University of Colorado.

The study found that where students go to high school makes a big difference and pointed to big disparities among the state's high schools.

"There are about 540 high schools in Colorado, we found about one-quarter of high schools don’t send any kids to top tier schools and we found some high schools will send more than 50 percent of their students to top tier schools," said Van Schoales, CEO of A-Plus Colorado.

Schoales said the message isn't that every student needs to go to college or pursue a post-secondary degree, but many should and should have access to opportunities in high school that make them eligible to attend selective colleges.

"It’s a problem. If you go to a high school and there aren’t kids or there aren’t programs or there aren’t teachers who are saying 'hey, you can go to CU, you can go to Stanford, you can go to Williams, that changes the whole dynamic of the high school and the expectations in that particular place," said Schoales.

The study breaks down school performance by income, ethnicity and geographical location (urban versus rural schools).

A Plus Colorado hopes the study can be used as a tool for parents and students in deciding where to go to high school. Schoales said the decision on where to send your student to high school should be a decision you take as seriously as buying a house. It can have a huge impact on the income a student will pull in in their adult life.

"You should spend more time investigating where your kids go to high school than research into buying a car or a house and you should take it on as the same responsibility for those things," said Schoales. "It can have one million and sometimes millions of dollars in terms of life times earnings"

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