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Study: High school disadvantages carry over into college

Starting over in college isn’t an easy thing for high school students.

Inside Higher Education reported on Jan. 27 that high school disadvantages follow students into college, and that the type of high school they attended will affect the way they do in higher education settings, based off a study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The study’s results “show that for students from a range of backgrounds, the high school can be the key factor in college success,” Inside Higher Education said. And “the study found that the quality of high school is a key predictor of grades in college, not only in freshman year, but continuing into the sophomore and junior years as well.”

NBER’s study looked at graduates of University of Texas at Austin who were in "the ‘10 percent program’ in which the top students at every Texas high school have been guaranteed admission (although the percentage has been reduced somewhat since the plan was created),” Inside Higher Education said.

The study also found that the quality of a student’s high school was responsible for “20 percent of the variation in high school grades, and that variation is not substantially reduced in the years that follow,” Inside Higher Education said.

Gawker also reported on the study, saying that part of the fix of higher education is fixing lower education first.

“From this we may draw the reasonable conclusion: If you want to fix higher education for disadvantaged students, first fix their high schools,” wrote Hamilton Nolan for Gawker. “And before that fix their middle schools and elementary schools. And before that, get that Universal Pre-K going.”

Experts say that there needs to be more collaboration to fix higher education, at least in California, The Los Angeles Times reported.

But this goes beyond just lower and higher education. A recent study by the Maine Education Policy Research Institute found that those from low-income homes tend to have lower academic performance, The Bangor Daily News reported.

Though Maine is a specific case, the research also shows that some schools aren’t fitting this method. And poverty doesn’t necessarily spell out one's destiny as a student, Bangor Daily News said.

“I tried to stress that yes, there is a connection between poverty and performance, but it doesn’t have to be your destiny in terms of the school,” said David Silvernail, lead author of the Maine study. “These schools may provide good models for other schools to emulate.”

Email: hscribner@deseretnews.com Twitter: @hscribner