Would you be curious to know how many graduates of Anoka Senior High go to college? Or how they compare to their peers in Edina, Brainerd or anywhere else in Minnesota?
This week, the state of Minnesota is unveiling an interactive website that allows you to make those comparisons for the first time. It also lets you see where, in general, those graduates end up — in two- or four-year colleges, in state or out — and how many from each high school ultimately earn a college degree.
The information, which has been gathered by various state agencies for years, has been crunched and repackaged into a user-friendly site at sleds.mn.gov. Meredith Fergus, the project coordinator, hopes it will give parents and students — as well as politicians and researchers — some important insights into how well individual high schools are preparing their students to succeed in college.
“Many schools haven’t had any of this information at all,” said Fergus, of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. “They certainly haven’t been able to compare themselves to other schools.”
On the website, you can plug in the name of any Minnesota high school and find out how every graduating class since 2006 has fared in a number of categories: how they scored on the ACT; how many left school after just one year of college and how many graduated in four years.
Fergus readily admits that economic or regional differences play a role. But she said the website, part of the Minnesota Statewide Longitudinal Education Data System (SLEDS) project, will give high schools a chance to see how they stack up against one another — and motivate changes.
“They use information like this to push themselves to do better,” she said. If, for example, principals learn that their peers are sending more students to college, they may ask what they can do differently: Add advisers? Change curriculum?
“We have to remember that we can change those outcomes,” she said.