- There is evidence in support of progress towards reaching the 60x30 goal statewide as well as locally. As for the state, the region and school districts have shown steady improvement in standard test performance.
- Low graduation rates in the region’s postsecondary institutions, particularly in comparison with local high school graduation rates, reflect low educational attainment levels among residents in Corpus Christi relative to the nation.
- Still the region is making progress towards achieving the 60x30 goal with an increasing number of postsecondary certificates or degrees awarded in each year since 2015.
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This newsletter summarizes the latest progress report for the City of Corpus Christi Mayor’s Education and Workforce Stakeholders Group. This group was formed in 2017 following the development of the state’s 60x30TX plan to reach an educational attainment goal: “By 2030, at least 60 percent of Texans ages 25-34 will have a certificate or degree.”
K-12 Academic Performance
Performance of students in different schools and districts is evaluated and compared under the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) program, which began in 2012. The Texas Education Agency reports results of the annual standardized tests of students in Grade 3 and higher. In addition to individual end-of-course assessments, the subjects for assessments include Reading, Mathematics, Writing, Science, and Social Studies.
Improvement in STAAR performance rates was evident at all grade levels, but the gap with the state average tended to widen at higher grades. For instance, based on “At Meets Grade Level or Above” as the standard, 43% of third grade students in the area passed the Reading test, and 47% of them passed the Math test. The outcomes were two percentage points below their corresponding statewide percentages. By Grade 8, the shares of students meeting this standard increased relatively more at the state level than the local level, resulting in gaps by 5 to 6 percentage points.
Attendance and Dropout Rates
The student attendance rate was 94.4% on average for all schools in Corpus Christi, compared with the state average of 95.4%. The patterns of attendance were consistent over recent years. While variations across the six local ISDs and across different ethnic/racial groups seemed quite small, the patterns of attendance rates were directly related to the measures of student performance.
Although the high school dropout rate across the region at 6.5% appeared to be close to the statewide average of 5.7%, this gap translated to 432 additional residents in Corpus Christi each year that fail to finish high school.
The overall 4-year graduation rate for local grade schools was 90.4% in 2019, a marked improvement in comparison with 83.5% in 2018, and 87.4% in 2017. Asians and Whites were more likely to graduate than Hispanics and African Americans. English Learners were much less likely to graduate: More than 30% of these students did not graduate within the typical 4-year window. These students also had the highest 4-year dropout rate exceeding 17%, compared to the area average of 6.5%.
In Texas, students are College Ready and/or Career Ready if they meet certain academic indicators or standardized testing benchmarks set by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Texas Education Agency. The standards define the competencies and skills graduating high school students must demonstrate in order to be successful in higher education and beyond. In general, College- and Career/Military-Ready graduates should be able to enter and succeed in entry-level postsecondary courses with no need for remediation.
In the city of Corpus Christi, 39% of the 2017-18 class of high-school graduates were deemed College Ready in 2019. According to the THECB, underprepared students are less likely to successfully complete developmental education courses and they are also less likely to succeed in college.
The percentage of local students rated as College Ready graduates at 39% was below the statewide average of 50%. On the other hand, relatively more local students (36%) were classified as Career or Military Ready, particularly for those demographic groups with relatively fewer students that were College Ready.
College Admission Tests
The average SAT/ACT scores of the 2018 class of students in Corpus Christi were slightly below the statewide averages. The school districts with relatively better STAAR test results also tended to have relatively high average SAT/ACT scores. In particular, 62.5% of Flour Bluff students were rated as “At/Above Criterion”, more than twice the average of 29.6% for the area. This district’s average ACT and SAT scores were higher than those for London ISD, the leading district in recent year.
For the 2017-18 class, the proportion of Texas high school graduates attending Texas universities and colleges was 55%. The ratio for local graduates was 52%, ranging from 41% for West Oso ISD to 77% for London ISD. Although the share of college going students from Corpus Christi was behind the statewide average, it was noticeably higher than the ratio of 43% in the previous year.
The likelihood of local students going to college in Texas and other parts of the nation varies as much by demographic group as by school district. Economically Disadvantaged graduates were much less likely (43%) to attend college than other graduates. For the 2018 class, all demographic groups in Flour Buff, London, and Tuloso-Midway ISDs had higher college going rates than the regional average.
Among local high school graduates that attended college in Texas, 50% completed the first year without remediation. This ratio was below the ratio of 59% for the state as a whole. Compared with previous years, the STAAR test results indicated continuous improvement in student performance among schools and school districts in Corpus Christi, especially West Oso and Corpus Christi ISDs.
The share of local high-school graduates who were required to take developmental or remedial courses during their freshman year has also declined persistently in recent years. In AY 2018-19, about half (50.4%) of the 2016-17 class of graduates from Corpus Christi high schools were not required to take developmental education, compared with 59.2% statewide.
Since 2018, the Texas Education Agency has released accountability ratings for all school districts and district charters in the state. All six local school districts in Corpus Christi received an overall grade of B or better in 2019. Calallen, London, and Flour Bluff ISDs earned an overall A grade (score 90 or above for Exemplary Performance).
Except Flour Bluff, most ISDs achieved a higher numeric score in 2019 than in 2018. This resulted in a higher letter grade for Calallen, Corpus Christi, Tuloso-Midway, and West Oso ISDs. Tuloso-Midway and West Oso ISDs also earned an A in the category of School Progress. While Corpus Christi ISD received the lowest overall score of 86, this reading was remarkably higher than its score of 78 in 2018.
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMU-CC) and Del Mar College (DMC) are the two public postsecondary education institutions in Corpus Christi. TAMU-CC is now a four-year university that also offers Master’s and doctoral degree programs. Del Mar is a two-year community college that has provided postsecondary education particularly for Corpus Christi residents since 1935.
In 2019, enrollments at these two institutions totaled roughly 23,700. The headcount at TAMU-CC has grown steadily since its introduction of lower-division curriculum in 1994. During that period, however, Del Mar College’s headcount enrollment fluctuated along with changes in regional economic conditions and other regional factors. Today, the headcount is roughly 11,500 at TAMU-CC and 12,200 at DMC. Fall 2019 marked the second time of TAMU-CC year-over-year enrollment decline.
The Craft Training Center of the Coastal Bend also offers postsecondary training program. In 2019, the enrollment at the CTC was slightly more than 1,000, and it offered electrical and welding programs for more than 300 students in local high schools.
In 2019, the 6-year graduation rate for the Fall 2013 cohort in Del Mar College was 30%, compared with the average of 32% for Texas community colleges. The graduation rates of more recent cohorts were correspondingly smaller. The average time to obtain an associate degree was 5 years, compared with the state average of 4.4 years.
Among those first-time freshman students, 73% were placed as requiring developmental coursework in one or more subjects. The graduation rate of these students was 19%, which was below the 27.5% graduation rate of other students. In addition to graduates, 14% of DMC students transferred to a 4-year institution. Among those who graduated or transferred, about half of them entered TAMU-CC.
For TAMU-CC, the 6-year graduation rate was 37% for the Fall 2013 FTIC cohort, compared with the Texas average of 59%. The average time to graduate was 5.1 years, compared with 4.9 years statewide. The share of graduates who found employment or enrolled in graduate school was 79%, which was slightly higher the statewide average of 78%.
The 6-year graduation rate of TAMU-CC students who had enrolled in Developmental Education courses was much lower at 26%, compared with 41% for those who did not require Developmental Education.
College Degree Attainment
Academic performance of students in Corpus Christi’s public education system affects the area’s overall educational attainment and workforce skills. According to currently available Census data (2017), the share of the local adult population (25 years and older) with a postsecondary degree is 29%, compared with 44% nationwide. The share of high school graduates in Corpus Christi, however, is on par with the national average. This implies an educational attainment gap specifically at the postsecondary rather than high school level.
Postsecondary Education Completions
In AY 2018-19, a total of 5,228 individuals in Corpus Christi completed postsecondary certificate or degree programs. With nearly 2,400 graduates, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi is the largest degree provider. Drawing from alumni surveys, about 30% of its new graduates are employed within the Coastal Bend region.
In addition to degree programs at TAMU-CC and Del Mar College, the Craft Training Center of the Coastal Bend and a number of private vocational training institutions provide postsecondary education and training. The majority of these non-degree programs provide certificates upon completion.
Drawing on the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s 60x30TX initiative launched in 2015, the goal of the local strategic plan is to achieve 60 percent of the Corpus Christi population that will have a postsecondary certificate or degree by 2030.
The above chart shows the progress of the state’s 60x30 goal in terms of the college-educated population between the ages of 25 and 34. The percentage of this population segment has indeed increased steadily since 2015, and it appears to be heading towards the 48% benchmark by 2020.
The above chart shows the corresponding evidence of progress for Corpus Christi. Since 2015, the total numbers of postsecondary completions in certificate and degree programs increased 5% annually on average. The growth of the number of postsecondary program completions in Corpus Christi over this period exceeded the annual regional population growth at 1%.
Since many award earners, especially bachelor’s and master’s degree graduates, do not remain in the region after completing the programs, increases in the number of postsecondary completions do not necessarily translate to corresponding increases in overall educational attainment among residents in Corpus Christi.