From Tails to Heads: Building Momentum for Postsecondary Success

No one’s trajectory in life should come down to a coin flip; but for black, brown, and low-income students at approximately 7,000 high schools across the United States, chances of successfully enrolling in higher education—and opening the doors to economic mobility that come with postsecondary education—are 50 percent or less. 

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From Tails to Heads: Building Momentum for Postsecondary Success
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Overview Slide Deck
Top-level findings and recommendations.
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Press Release
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ESG and the Level Up Coalition are pleased to release a new in-depth report: From Tails to Heads: Building Momentum for Postsecondary Success. The report offers a framework for a new set of postsecondary transition metrics for states and communities to prioritize in order to help more students successfully move to and through higher education. Collectively, the “Momentum Metrics” identified in the report represent eight of the most predictive indicators of postsecondary preparation, retention, and success. They are designed to help educators and administrators target resources and supports at the individual student level as well as to inform broader conversations at the aggregate level about advising policies and programs. 

Despite their predictive power, very few states and districts currently use these metrics to measure the success of their schools or to target resources and interventions for students. With the COVID-19 crisis simultaneously deterring students’ progress on their educational journeys and making quality postsecondary credentials even more essential for economic mobility, we owe it to students to provide the informed, intentional support they need to make it to and through higher education. Together, we can flip the script on postsecondary access and success for millions of students.

Momentum Metrics "Cheat Sheet"

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An overview of the “Momentum Metrics,” which collectively represent eight of the most predictive measures of postsecondary preparation, retention, and success.

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Recommendations for States and Districts

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States and districts have a vital role to play in ensuring the Momentum Metrics data are collected, monitored, and used to increase students’ postsecondary preparation, transitions, and success.

Recommendations for State Leaders

Recommendations for District Leaders

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Postsecondary Enrollment Disparities

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Over the past decade, the national postsecondary attainment rate has grown—across all races and ethnicities—yet gaps remain.

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