Exploring the Relationship between Texas Public High School Accountability Ratings and Postsecondary Matriculation Rates



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Background: In the modern economy, postsecondary education has become a vital prerequisite for those who wish to earn middle class wages and comfortably support a family (Doyle & Skinner, 2016; McFarland et al, 2018). During his time in office, no less an authority than President Barack Obama set the goal to have the United States lead the world in proportion of young people who possess a postsecondary credential (Vise, 2011). Moreover, the state of Texas has set a “60X30” goal to have 60% of all its residents between the ages of 25 and 34 possess a postsecondary credential of some kind by the year 2030 (Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, 2015). Therefore, it is important for researchers and policymakers to understand how characteristics of high schools help or hinder in the process of motivating students to move immediately to postsecondary education following high school graduation. Purpose: This study seeks to investigate whether the accountability ratings and institutional characteristics of Texas public high schools are able to predict the postsecondary matriculation rate of schools’ graduating seniors. Methods: The data for this study was obtained from publicly available reports from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Texas Education Agency; specifically, the High School Graduates Enrolled in Higher Education and Academic Excellence Indicator System reports were used. The final sample of high schools in this study is N = 1120. The dependent variable is the postsecondary matriculation rate of each high school. The independent variables include the accountability rating of each high school in Spring 2011, the percentage of the student body who were identified as Black or Latina/o, the percentage of students successfully participating in Advanced and Dual Enrollment courses, the average class size of core courses, the average number of years’ experience of teachers at each high school, and the number of full-time equivalent administrative and support staff. Research questions were addressed using descriptive statistics, a chi-square test for independence, an ANOVA and two multiple linear regression models. Results: Schools in the lowest accountability rating had the lowest mean matriculation and schools in each of the higher ratings had successively higher matriculation rates and the relationship between rating and matriculation rate was statistically significant. The chi-square test for independence showed that there was a statistically significant, though nuanced, relationship between school racial composition and accountability rating. Linear regressions also showed that there was a significant relationship between accountability rating and matriculation rate, even while controlling for several significant high school characteristics. Conclusion: As Texas works toward its 60X30 goal, policymakers and practitioners may find it helpful to push students to participate in more rigorous coursework and explore pathways to keep teachers in the profession longer. Moreover, a system of tiered accountability ratings may be of use as a kind of early warning system so that postsecondary matriculation rates can be boosted to put students on the right track toward earning a credential.



K-12 accountability, Postsecondary matriculation