February 21, 2020

Our community’s largest investment: CVU grads

By members of the 

CVU School Board

Many years ago, Hillary Clinton famously reminded us that, “It takes a village to raise a child.” On Friday, June 12, Champlain Valley Union High graduated the Class of 2015 and the Chittenden South Supervisory Union “villages” said farewell and good luck to another cohort of their collective children—students who have benefitted not just from our tax dollars, but from the myriad ways in which we engage with our youngest residents. As board members, we spend a great deal of time thinking about our school’s mission, policies and priorities, trying to balance what is best for kids with what is best for the school budget. At graduation time, we pause in this work and, as good parents are wont to do as their children fly from the proverbial nest, we ask, how did our villages do in “raising” our students?

Though not a question that is easily answered, we do have some post-graduation data and plans are underway to collect more. Beginning with the CVU graduation rate, what follows is a brief profile of the Class of 2014 (the most recent class for which data is available).

On average, approximately 93 percent of CVU students graduate high school within four years (compared to a national average of about 80 percent). Of the 276 graduates of the Class of 2014, 73 percent planned to attend a post-secondary institution (70 percent to a four-year college, 3 percent to a two-year college), indicating that CVU students pursue higher education opportunities at rates that exceed state and national averages (54 percent and 63 percent, respectively). Of those seniors who attended one of the local technical centers (15 percent of the Class of 2014), 30 percent enrolled in college. Post-secondary school attendance is an important parameter to consider, as, statistically speaking, lifetime earnings have been shown to increase with educational attainment.

Our best data also tells us that almost 53 percent of the Class of 2014 applied to the University of Vermont. Of these students, approximately 55 percent were admitted and 21 percent intended to matriculate there (i.e., 30 seniors). 

The remaining 75 or so students (i.e., 27 percent of graduates) who did not have plans to attend a post-secondary school self-reported that they were either entering the workforce or taking a gap year. Of these 75, 25 students were planning to travel outside the U.S. and 20 were planning to apply to college later. Almost 19 percent of graduates intended to work after high school—this statistic includes students who are post-secondary school-bound.

The Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) recently shared new data regarding the persistence of Vermont high school graduates who immediately continue on to higher education. They defined persistence as the “percentage of students who, having enrolled in the fall of 2012, enrolled again in the fall of 2013.” The persistence rate in Vermont for this class was 86.1 percent and at CVU, the overall persistence rate was 93.7 percent. Not much else is known, however, regarding how our students thrive during their first year out of high school and beyond, nor what our students say, as they mature, about the education they were provided in the CSSU. CVU is working to expand its understanding of the fates of our graduates, with data such as the above, to add to existing measures of the quality of education we provide.

In closing, we’d like to gently remind the Class of 2015, that though your education was public, it was not “free,” and, just as your school asks you to recognize your parents in the celebration of your graduation milestone, so your school board asks you to also acknowledge your community’s role in your “upbringing.” We hope we have done well by you these past 12 years and that you will represent your town, state and country admirably as you continue to grow into our future leaders. Congratulations and good luck!

Williston representatives to the CVU School Board include Jeanne Jensen, Polly Malik and Gene McCue.

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