Community Blog: The EDge

Don Coberly’s tale of two high schools

Like many school superintendents, Don Coberly likes to look at measurables.

Don Coberly
Don Coberly

But Boise’s district superintendent also blogs about what the statistics have to say.

This week, Coberly wrote an interesting blog comparing Boise and Capital high schools, and their college go-on rates. Both schools have solid reputations. Boise and Capital received five and four stars, respectively, in Idaho’s latest five-star school ratings, and both made the Washington Post’s list of America’s most challenging high schools, released this week.

But the schools serve markedly different sections of town. Boise sits in Downtown Boise. Capital serves West Boise and Garden City — and has a significantly higher percentage of students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.

With that as backdrop, here’s what Coberly found:

  • Shifting demographics do not necessarily affect a school’s go-on rate. Capital has seen a significant increase in students qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch — from 46 percent in 2007 to 58 percent in 2013. But in that same time period, Capital’s college go-on rate has also increased significantly — from 48 percent to 62 percent.
  • While the schools’ go-on rates aren’t terribly far apart — Boise’s rate was 69 percent, compared to Capital’s 62 percent — some significant differences lurk beneath those statistics. Forty-nine percent of Boise’s graduates went to out-of-state schools, compared to 20 percent of Capital grads. Meanwhile, 28 percent of Capital grads went to the College of Western Idaho, compared to 8 percent of Boise grads.

Coberly says CWI, a fledgling community college that opened in 2008, is one factor in Capital’s increased go-on rate. He also credited Capital faculty and counselors, and the district’s Advancement Via Individual Determination program, with helping to encourage Capital students to continue their education.

More data: Find out more about these schools and how they compare to other Idaho high schools at our new data center, Idaho Ed Trends.

(A bit of personal disclosure: I am the parent of two Capital graduates, who have contributed to the school’s go-on rate.)

Kevin Richert is a reporter and blogger at Idaho Education News (idahoednews.org). Kevin is a former Statesman editorial page editor, with 27 year's experience in Idaho journalism.

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