California’s high school graduation rates have increased significantly in recent years, but the percentage of those students who complete their college education continues to lag, with long-term implications for the state’s future.

Citing projections that the state will lack more than 2 million college-educated workers by 2025, California Competes executive director Lande Ajose said, “when you have the kind of robust economic fortune California has, and yet you see gaps in what is occurring in terms of degree attainment, that is cause for concern.”

But just over half of California’s college students — 55 percent — get their associate degrees at a community college in three years or bachelor’s degrees in six years. That figure includes completion rates for private institutions as well as the state’s public colleges and universities. Completion rates are lowest at the California Community Colleges, which serves a student body with more part-time and older students than the California State University or the University of California.

The gap between high school and college completion are even more dramatic when looked at by race and ethnicity. For example, the largest high school graduation-college completion gap is among African-American students. In 2016, 73 percent graduated from high school in 2016, but only 38 percent of black college students did so. While the gap is significant for white students as well, it is not nearly as much as for students for other racial and ethnic groups. Nearly 90 percent of white students graduate from high school in 2016, while 60 percent complete their college degrees.

Although not described in the report, there are multiple reasons for the disparities between high school and college outcomes. K-12 education attendance is mandatory for students under age 18, while college attendance is not. Students typically get much more support and attention in high school than they receive in most colleges.

Read the full article about California students by Louis Freedberg at EdSource.