MHS ranked No. 7 in report

MEEKER | Meeker High School tied for seventh in the top 24 rural and small town schools for college enrollments of its graduates from 2009 to 2015 in a report from A+ Colorado, an education advocacy group which promotes improvements to Colorado schools and public education. The report, released in December, evaluating the enrollment rate of high school graduates in “top-tier” and other postsecondary (college) institutions. The report title is “A Seat at the Table: Colorado Students’ Access to Top Colleges.”
“Top-tier” colleges in the A+ Colorado analysis are those identified by US News and World Report as the top 150 colleges and universities in the country. During the seven years covered by the data used, 4 percent of 310 total Meeker graduates entered “top-tier” schools (12 students), and 62 percent of Meeker’s graduates enrolled in all colleges or universities. By comparison, the number one school on the list was Aspen High School, which placed 23 percent of its 941 graduates during the seven years in Top-Tier schools and 72 percent in postsecondary education colleges overall. Other schools above Meeker on the list include Telluride, Vail Ski and Snowboard, Crested Butte Community, and Battle Mountain (Edwards) High Schools. Schools down the list from Meeker include Summit, Estes Park, Gunnison and Eagle Valley High Schools.
The basic premise of the report is that education after high school is extremely important to a person’s lifetime trajectory. The median lifetime earnings of people with bachelor’s degrees are 74 percent higher than those with only a high school diploma—a nearly $1 million difference. It is critical, the reports says, that high school students be prepared for college and equally be able to choose a college that will serve them well. Of the Colorado Class of 2015 high school graduates, 57 percent enrolled in post-secondary institutions the following fall. Note that this is less than Meeker High School’s 62 percent.
The report emphasizes that whether a student is set up to access and succeed in post secondary programs is a critical measure of the value of their high school education. While upward mobility is basic to the “American Dream,” during the last 50 years, A+ Colorado reports a decrease in economic mobility and an increase in economic inequality to the point that the U.S. now has one of the lowest economic mobility rates among major industrialized economies. Improving college access and other post secondary pathways is critical for overcoming these statistics and making the American Dream a reality.
A major finding of this college access study is that all Colorado high school diplomas are not equal and that rural high schools are as varied as suburban and urban schools. Statewide, the analysis found most Colorado high schools aren’t sending their graduates to the nation’s highest ranked colleges and universities. Only 4 percent of high school graduates between 2009 and 2015 enrolled in top-tier schools like the University of Colorado Boulder or Colorado School of Mines. Note that this statewide percentage is the same as Meeker’s.
Van Schoales, CEO of the non-profit A+ Colorado group, said, “There are very few schools that are preparing and sending kids to top colleges, with incredible variation across the state. Some parts of the state don’t send any kids to top schools.”
According to the report, the picture is even grimmer for the state’s students of color and those who come from low-income homes. Of approximately 580 Colorado high schools, 22 sent at least 10 percent of their graduates who come from more affluent homes to top colleges, while only two high schools met the same mark for students from low-income families. Meanwhile, 17 high schools sent 10 percent of their white students to a top school, while only six sent the same proportion of black graduates. Just two sent 10 percent of their Latino students to a top university.
Meeker Superintendent of Schools Chris Selle told his staff and the Board of Education that Meeker’s seventh place ranking “is an accomplishment for which we should be very proud.” In doing so, Selle also pointed out that almost all of the rural schools ranked ahead of Meeker are in resort communities and that he would not consider them to truly be our peers, even though they do meet the rural designation as defined by the Colorado Department of Education. 
The full report can be seen at apluscolorado.org/reports/.

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