Opinion

Muskens: Data warehouse offers student insights

Last fall, I was appointed to sit on a provincial government committee on data standards and definitions.

Essentially, this committee looks at what kind of data we collect, how we collect it and in some cases who has access to this data and what it is used for.

Just about all the colleges and universities in the province of B.C collect and send data to the provincial government, where it is stored in the appropriately-named Central Data Warehouse.

This data is used by both the schools and the government to report on a lot of interesting stuff (at least that’s what I think).

Some of this information was highlighted in a report last week which listed a number of student transitions project fast facts.

The first fact showed the B.C. Secondary School graduation rate.

This is essentially the number of high school students who actually graduated from Grade 12.

Currently the number sits at 80 per cent with little change except for the male student graduation rate—it went from 77 per cent in 2005-06 to 83 per cent in 2009-10.

The info sheet also looked at the percentage of Grade 12 graduates who were satisfied that their education prepared them for college or university.

On average, about 72 per cent indicated their past education prepared them to transition to post-secondary.

Fast fact number three showed how many high school students went directly to college or university right after graduation which currently sits at 53.6 per cent.

Since 2005, across B.C. these transition rates have increased by 2.7 per cent.

Transition rates in the Okanagan area grew faster at 4.7 per cent.

This is the type of information I look at all the time because it gives me a pretty good idea of what to expect in regards to demand for Okanagan College programs and courses.

But high school transition rates aren’t the only transition rates I look at.

Fast fact number four provided information on the cumulative transition rates to college or university.

These are high school graduates who took time off between high school and college.

Over a period of time, this report shows how a graduating classes transition to post-secondary.

For example, in B.C. 49.9 per cent of the graduating class of 2004 went straight to post-secondary.

A year later, another 10.8 per cent of this same class enrolled, followed by another 4.6 per cent a year later.

By 2009, this 49.9 per cent grew to 72.4 per cent, telling us that from this specific graduating class many had registered at a college or university.

Fast-fact number five looked at the same data including the per cent of students who did not attend college or university.

This information is also important because it gives college and university administrators the ability to see how young adults transition into college as they move through their 20s.

B.C. data shows us that the older an individual gets the least likely they will go back to school.

Another interesting fast fact was the how many of us over the age of 15 hold a high school graduation diploma and a post-secondary credential.

With data from Stats Canada this chart showed a provincial comparison.

B.C. rated that highest at 80 per cent followed by Ontario, Alberta, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland.

Next week, I’ll review the rest of the report, which looks at Aboriginal students, high achievers and some more interesting stuff. Stay tuned.

Jane Muskens is the registrar at Okanagan College.

jmuskens@okanagan.bc.ca

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