At the height of the annual college-application process, the Palo Alto school board will hear a timely report Tuesday night on district graduates' college enrollment and vote on a controversial proposal to not report weighted grades on students' official transcripts.
The majority of Palo Alto Unified School District students enroll in four-year colleges and universities after graduation, though minority, low-income and special-education students continue to enroll and complete degrees at lower rates, according to a report to be presented to the board Tuesday.
While white and Asian students enrolled in college at relatively stable high rates from 2012 to 2015, black and Hispanic students in particular lag significantly behind in most years. Special-education students also enroll in college at slightly lower rates, but the gap between them and general-education students has decreased since 2010.
Low-income, minority and special-education students from Palo Alto Unified are also obtaining degrees at lower rates, according to the report. About half of low-income, minority and special-education students from the class of 2010 have completed a degree, compared to 71 percent of their peers. This gap was even more stark in the class of 2008, when only 49 percent of low-income and minority students and 53 percent of special-education students earned degrees, compared to 80 percent of their peers, according to the report.
From the class of 2008 through the class of 2015, graduates enrolled in a college or university within one year after graduation at rates between 78 percent and 87 percent. Most of those students went on to four-year schools, from 72 percent in 2008 to 93 percent in 2015, according to the district.
And while the majority of Palo Alto Unified graduates historically stayed in California, that number has decreased since 2008. In 2015, about half of the graduating class attended schools in California, compared to 73 percent in 2008.
More out-of-state students are attending private than public schools, according to the district. The largest numbers of those who stay in California attend either a University of California (UC) campus or a private institution.
Across the board, Palo Alto Unified graduates stay in college from freshman to sophomore year at high rates, though minority and low-income students are slightly behind their peers.
More than 70 percent of students from the classes of 2008 and 2009 finished school in four years. Twenty-two percent of graduates from those classes took six years to finish.
Due to course naming and archiving practices, the district has inconsistently tracked and reported high school graduates' performance on the A-G college requirements, according to the report. The district is now working with high school staff to "create a more accurate A-G tracking system" and plans to work with an independent consultant to create a new district course master.
In other business Tuesday, the board will look at a draft of a district-wide equity plan to better support underrepresented minority students; hear an update on the district's Social Emotional Learning Curriculum Committee's work; discuss a resolution to support state Proposition 55, which would extend for 12 years the temporary state income-tax bracket for earnings over $250,000 passed in 2012 to help provide additional funding for K-12 public schools and community colleges; and discuss proposed changes to a board policy on major donations. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at the district office, 25 Churchill Ave. View the full agenda here.