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In Dallas County, Just 15 Percent of Eighth-Graders Go on to Graduate from College, Data Show

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Dallas ISD graduation rates are up. The percentage of kids dropping out keeps going down.

That's undeniably good news, but what about the bigger picture? Are local kids going on to get college degrees that will allow them to compete for decent jobs in an increasingly knowledge-based economy?

The answer, provided by a new Texas Tribune tool tracking higher ed outcomes, is a resounding no.

The Tribune's data track the collegiate achievement of about 1.8 million students who started eighth grade at Texas public schools between 1996-2001. Statewide, the results are discouraging, with a shade more than half of the kids (51.6 percent) enrolling in a Texas college or university in 2001, with just 19.4 percent of the total completing a degree.

The numbers are worse for Dallas County (the app doesn't drill down to individual school districts). In the same cohort here, 45.4 percent of 31,351 kids enrolled in college, while 15.4 percent actually made it through.

There are predictable disparities based on income and ethnicity. Only 7.3 percent of disadvantaged Dallas County kids completed college, 10.4 percent of African-Americans and 6.5 percent for Hispanics.

It's worth keeping in mind that the numbers reflect kids who, for the most part, last attended public school around 2005, so any improvements in the educational system since then aren't reflected. The data also don't account for students who attended or graduated from schools out of state, unless they subsequently settled down in Texas.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

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