How do newer data affect WICHE’s high school graduate projections?

As is the case in many areas of life, what is currently “latest-and-greatest” fades to “old news” almost immediately. In that spirit, within mere months of the release of WICHE’s ninth edition of high school graduate projections, which spans school years between 2013-14 and 2031-32, more recent sets of the source data that underlie the projections have been released.

Here are the details –

  • An additional year of public school enrollments were released in October 2016 through the federal Common Core of Data, for school year 2014-15. This newly released data was limited to enrollments; it did not provide additional data for the number of high school graduates past school year 2012-13. These newer enrollments became available past the point at which WICHE could have incorporated them in the published projections.
  • There is also one additional year of private school graduate counts available, for the school year 2012-13. This more recent private school data only provides graduate counts; more recent grade-level enrollments by state have not yet been released.
  • Finally, more recent data have been released for births in 2015. (WICHE is not making these more newer births available on the Knocking at the College Door website, because full detail by race/ethnicity is not available.)

WICHE's analysis of these data and other information indicates that the overall trends that are predicted in the December 2016 Knocking at the College Door report and projections are solid and relatively immutable. There are some numerical differences by state and race/ethnicity, especially where there are smaller populations. But, the official, published Knocking at the College Door projections appear to be within one to two percent of what is predicted with these newer data, nationally and among several key states. The data about 2015 births confirm that the recent “baby bust” persisted for the nation and many states in 2015, and this will play out in the smaller graduating classes into the early 2030s as predicted in the published Knocking at the College Door projections.

As a service to users of the these data, WICHE has compiled and provides these most recently available schools data on the Knocking at the College Door website.

Sources: National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data, State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey Data “Membership” data set, at NCES Private School Universe Survey data table “Percentage of private schools with 12th-graders, number of graduates, graduation rate, and percentage of graduates who attended 4-year colleges, by selected school characteristics: United States, 2013–14”, at National Center for Health Statistics, Vital Statistics Data Available Online, Birth Data Files, at All files accessed 7 March 2017. Notes: WICHE performs data checks and sometimes makes corrections to the raw/source schools data in making the projections. The data for private schools data collected biennially, in odd-numbered years (WICHE imputes the between years in making the projections). Only the raw, reported data values – no corrections or imputations -- are provided in the data file on the Knocking website. Appendix C of the Knocking report provides details about the projections’ historical accuracy.