Education System in Corpus Christi
Economic Pulse, 2018, Issue 2
The role of a skilled workforce in maintaining regional and global competitiveness is being emphasized by regional and local policymakers. At the state level, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has initiated a plan, called 60x30TX, with a goal that at least 60 percent of Texans ages 25-34 will have a certificate or college degree by 2030.
Locally, the City of Corpus Christi and the Corpus Christi United Chamber of Commerce have adopted similar action plans to improve the area’s overall educational attainment level and marketable skills.
This article is an excerpt from a recent study at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. The study provides an overview of the local education system with background data that aim at assisting local stakeholders’ decision-making in the current community-wide educational initiative.
The city of Corpus Christi consists of six Independent School Districts (ISDs): Calallen ISD, Corpus Christi ISD, Flour Bluff ISD, London ISD, Tuloso-Midway ISD, and West Oso ISD. Across these six school districts, 57% of the student population obtains the Economically Disadvantaged (ED) status. These students are highly concentrated in certain schools. The share of this socioeconomic group ranges from 92% in West Oso ISD to 9.4% in London ISD.
Performance disparities across ISDs are consistent across different subjects and over time since the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) program’s inception in 2012. The overall percentages of area students who pass the Reading or Mathematics tests are on par with the statewide averages.
Improvements are evident at higher grade levels. For instance, 71% of third grade students in the area passed the Reading test in 2016, and 77% of them passed the Math test. The percentages of students passing the test rose to 78% and 85%, respectively, for Grade 5. The percentage of students passing the Reading test improved further to 82%, but the percentage of students passing the Math test dropped to 71%.
Compared with the overall student population, the percentages of Economically Disadvantaged students passing these standardized tests are about 5 percentage points lower. Among individual ISDs, Calallen and London ISDs have the highest percentages of students who pass either the Reading or Math test, whereas West Oso ISD has the lowest percentage. For instance, slightly less than 90% of third grade students in Calallen and London ISDs passed the Reading or Math test in 2016. For West Oso ISD, only 54% of third grade students passed the Reading test and 71% of them passed the Math test.
Disparities in academic assessment results persist at higher grade levels. By the end of Grade 8, more than 94% of students in London and Calallen ISDs pass the Math test, whereas 64% of students in West Oso ISD pass the same test. The percentage of Corpus Christi ISD students passing the Math test is close to West Oso ISD’s.
Academic performance varies remarkably across major ethnic/race groups. Asian students tend to score the highest in both Reading and Math tests, whereas African American students tend to score the lowest. More than 95% of Asians in any of the three testing grades pass either the Reading or Math test. By contrast, the percentage of African-American students passing either test is at least 5 percentage points below the area average.
Within a given ethnic/race group, the percentage of students passing the STAAR tests is typically higher in schools with overall better performance records and lower in schools with overall worse performance records. For instance, 96% of Hispanic Grade 8 students in London ISD—the district with overall best student performance records—passed the Math test in 2016. This share was even higher than the share of 91% for the White counterparts in the same district.
In West Oso ISD—the district with overall poorest student performance records—the percentage of White students in Grade 8 passing the same Math test was 80%, which was higher than 69% for Hispanic students but still below the area-wide average of 83%.
The patterns of individual end-of-course assessment test results are similar to the broad subject test results at lower grade levels. In general, the percentages of students passing the end-of-course tests are comparable between the city of Corpus Christi and the statewide average.
Locally, relatively more students pass these tests in London, Calallen, and Flour Bluff ISDs than in Corpus Christi and West Oso ISDs. While Hispanics across the area tend to perform worse than Whites in most tests, proportionally more Hispanic students in London ISD pass any of the tests than their White counterparts, except for Algebra. In London ISD, the shares Hispanic students who pass the end-of-course tests are between 95% and 100%.
The observed performance disparities across schools and demographic groups persist throughout most grade levels. This implies that, other things being equal, a young child who scores well in any subject, such as reading, is more likely to be a high achiever through high school and beyond. A child who fails an assessment test is more likely to drop out from school before college.
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 (THECB) and the Texas Education Agency (TEA). In general, College- and Career-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, 30% of high-school students are College Ready Graduates in both English for Liberal Arts (ELA) and Math. Relatively more students are rated as College Ready in ELA than in Math. London ISD has the highest percentage of students as College Ready Graduates, whereas West Oso ISD has the lowest. Only 13% of West Oso Grade 12 students are College Ready in both fields.
Across different ethnic/race groups, Asians tend to be more College Ready in either ELA or Math. Conversely, only one in 10 (11%) African American students is College Ready in both fields. According to THECB, underprepared students are less likely to successfully complete developmental education courses and they are also less likely to succeed in college.
Similar to college readiness, the percentage of local students rated as Career Ready graduates at 66% is below the statewide average of 75%. In contrast to the rating for being College Ready alone (13%), 94% of West Oso graduates are both College and Career Ready. American Indians (83%) and Asians (80%) in the area tend to be more likely to be College and Career Ready graduates, whereas almost all African American (95%) and Hispanic (94%) graduates specifically from West Oso are College and Career Ready.
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMUCC) and Del Mar College (DMC) are the two public postsecondary education institutions in Corpus Christi. In 2016, enrollments at these two institutions totaled roughly 22,000. The headcount at TAMUCC 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. Total enrollment at TAMUCC began to exceed DMC’s in 2013. Today, the headcount is roughly 12,000 at TAMUCC and 11,000 at DMC.
The Craft Training Center (CTC) of the Coastal Bend also offers postsecondary training programs. In 2016, the enrollment at CTC was 1,026, and it offered electrical and welding programs for 317 students in local high schools.
In 2016-2017, the 6-year graduation rate for the 2010 cohort of Del Mar College was 25.3%, compared with the average of 32.2% for Texas community colleges. 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 course work in one or more subjects. The graduation rate of these students was 11.5%, which was below the 27.3% 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, nearly half of them (49%) entered TAMUCC.
For TAMCC, the 6-year graduation rate was 43.3% for the Fall 2010 FTIC cohort, compared with the 59.3% Texas average. The corresponding 4-year graduation rate was 20.4%, compared with the 31.2% statewide average. 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 those students who had enrolled in Developmental Education courses was much lower at 25.6%, compared with 41.9% for those who did not require Developmental Education. International students had the highest graduation rate at 67%. Among the major ethnic/race groups, Asians had the highest graduation rate at 51.9%, followed by 43.5% for Whites.
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 the latest (2015) Census data, the share of the local adult population (25 years and older) with a college degree is 28.4%, compared to 37.8% nationwide. The share of high school graduates in Corpus Christi, however, is on par with the national average at roughly 28%. This implies an educational gap specifically at the postsecondary rather than grade school level.
The share of Corpus Christi population ages 25 to 34 with a certificate or degree was 37 percent in 2015. The benchmarks for reaching the statewide 60x30 goal are 48 percent by 2020 and 54 percent by 2025. To achieve the goal of 60x30 locally would mean a total of more than 6,700 individuals with a postsecondary credential by 2030.
“Corpus Christi Education Report,” South Texas Economic Development Center, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, 2017.