Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness

To examine how well states are preparing graduates for education beyond high school and the workplace, we used three measures of postsecondary and workforce readiness: performance on Advanced Placement (AP) exams, graduation rates, and the chance students from a given state will attend college by age 19. These three scores can all be represented as simple ratios, which were then averaged into a readiness index. We ordered the scores and curved them such that there were 10 A’s, 10 B’s, 11 C’s, 10 D’s, and 10 F’s.

AP Quotient

The AP program offers challenging college-level courses to high school students, measuring success by using rigorous exams with a 5-point scale on which a score of 3, 4, or 5 is considered “passing.” College Board, the organization that administers AP tests, provided the data on both the number of students who took AP exams in the class of 2013 and the number of students who passed those exams.

Percentage of Students Graduating from High School

This number, sourced from Education Week’s Diplomas Count 2014 report, provided the four-year cohort graduation rate—that is, the number of incoming 9th grade students who graduated four years later.

Chance at College by 19

This information was compiled by Thomas Mortenson, senior scholar at the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education. Mortenson compared the number of first-time freshmen enrolled in any two- and four-year college in the United States, and then divided that by the number of 9th graders four years earlier in each state. This number did not account for high school transfers out of state or students who dropped of out high school and earned a General Education Diploma (GED).