MLT Blog

Impact of Income vs. Test Scores on College Graduation

MLT Strategy and Digital Media

We came across an interesting article in the New York Times: “For the Poor, the Graduation Gap Is Even Wider Than the Enrollment Gap.”  The article summarizes the results of the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 that followed 15,000 students for more than 10 years, beginning in their sophomore year of high school.

The study found that low-income college students with top high school math and reading test scores had a 41% chance of graduating from college, while students from the highest income bracket had a 74% chance of graduating.  Furthermore, a student with only mediocre test scores from an advantaged family had the same chance, 41%, of graduating from college as the disadvantaged student with the strongest scores.  As the Times article noted, “Academic skills in high school, at least as measured by a standardized math test, explain only a small part of the socioeconomic gap in educational attainment.”

MLT started our Ascend college program a year ago to directly address this problem and help close the socioeconomic educational achievement gap.  Thanks to a generous grant from the Citi Foundation, MLT Ascend provides first-generation, low-income college students with the help and resources they need to succeed in college and graduate on track to begin a fulfilling career.  Our initial class of almost 200 freshmen are mentored by MLT Rising Leaders and given support to help them overcome academic and financial challenges as well as advice on building relationships and identifying their career interests.

The Times concluded its article by writing, “…any poor children who manage to score at the top of the class are increasingly beating the odds. Yet even when they beat the odds in high school, they still must fight a new set of tough odds when it comes to completing college.” MLT Ascend is helping these students beat the odds again to finish college and start a successful career.