Posted Date: 12/18/2017
The future of students today is weighted greatly on the choices made in our school system. Numerous sources of data indicate that for the class of 2020 two out of every three jobs will require post-high school education. Attainment of these opportunities becomes very difficult for many of our students due to set challenges in their lives. Two out of every three students in Livingston ISD is socioeconomically disadvantaged as defined by the Texas Education Agency, and one out of every three is labeled At-Risk of not completing their High School course of study. A staggering opportunity gap exists between students with these social challenges and students of more affluent backgrounds.
The challenge that faces our students is common to our county and others with like demographics across the state. The Texas Tribune recently released data taken from a longitudinal study that showed the effects of the Polk County students in 8th grade in 2005 as they advanced in school and on into life. Of those 570 students, 386 of them became High School graduates, and 258 went on to enroll in a post-secondary institute. 82 of those students graduated from those programs. This same data plays out in other studies that triangulate the post-secondary completion rate a little greater than 10%. The Center for Public Policy Priorities released the Texas Education Score Card rating Polk County a D+ because 56.6% of High school graduates enrolled in a post-secondary institution and their data shows that 58.7% of those enrolled won’t graduate. Simple things like filling out the FAFSA form for federal financial aid is only submitted by one out of three students.
Livingston ISD is currently addressing these challenges by a systemic approach. Through a thorough needs assessment, the district found that in 2014, students from less affluent backgrounds were not taking advantage of the district’s dual credit program and the High School Advanced Placement class were not producing student success on the scale expected by the district. Livingston High School during the past three years implemented an approach built off an “Early College High School Model”. The district picks up the cost of tuition, fees, and books for students through Angelina College. This opens the door for many students to take advantage of this opportunity. Research indicates that students with over 24 hours of college obtain their degrees. While the district started the program paying for 12 hours, as financing has become available the district has increased the number of hours available for students. This year the district has afforded the opportunity for 39 hours of college, and with the class of 2022, that number increases to 60 hours of opportunity.
The cost of college has risen astronomically since the class of 2020 was born. In fact, the cost of college has risen 147% during their lives alone. The “baby boomer” generation cost of college per year averaged $1,375 for tuition, room, board, and books while the average for today’s students faces an average state institution price of $24,706. These numbers make it impossible for the average Texas family to afford their children a college education. In essence, the class of 2022 will be offered an opportunity for a $40,000 investment/scholarship in college education while attending LHS. According to LISD Superintendent Dr. Hawkins, “Cutting the cost of college stands to make a profound impact on the community we serve. We have many that want to attend college, but can’t and for those, this is a dream come true!” The district also offers certification programs in career technology classes that will equally impact LISD students.