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Post-High School Enrollment

Far too few Arizona students pursue education or advanced training after graduating from high school.

Arizona currently ranks near the bottom among all states in the percent of high school graduates who continue their education the year after completing high school.

Students who delay enrolling in training or education right after high school do so for a variety of reasons, but those who do delay are at greater risk of never receiving a degree or credential compared to students who enroll immediately after high school graduation.

Post-High School Enrollment is defined as the annual percentage of Arizona high school graduates who register for college in the immediate school term following graduation.


ASU's Morrison Institute for Public Policy is the data steward for the Education Progress Meter. Data for these indicators was compiled and reviewed for validity.

Data sources and methodology for each of the Education Progress Meter metrics are listed below, with a brief introduction followed by a more in-depth description of the process for producing the final numbers. This is followed by a description of Census Bureau data and a brief look at potential issues with sample-based data.

Post-High School Enrollment

The percent of Arizona high school graduates enrolled in postsecondary education the semester after graduating from high school.


  • National Student Clearinghouse via Arizona Board of Regents, 2017-18
  • National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16

Included in this number

Arizona district and charter high school students who graduated in 2016-17 school year and enrolled in post-secondary education during the 2017-18 school year. Post-secondary enrollment includes in-state and out-of-state universities, community colleges, or private postsecondary trade schools.

Not included in this number

  • Students who have enlisted in the military.
  • Students attending the small number of private postsecondary institutions that do not send data to the National Student Clearinghouse.
  • Students on religious missions.
  • Additionally, three types of schools, and their accompanying students were removed from the county-level data:
    • Graduates of three schools whose county location could not be definitively identified. These schools had a total of 80 graduates and 21 enrollees in postsecondary education.
    • Graduates of 54 high schools whose graduating class was 5 or fewer students. These schools would have total maximum of 255 (51 x 5) graduates.
    • Graduates of 110 high schools that had fewer than 5 students enroll in the postsecondary education. These schools had a total of 1,835 graduates, an unknown number of whom went on to postsecondary education.

In Brief

Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) publishes a list of high schools in Arizona along with the number of graduates and the number who enroll in post-secondary education the following year. High school graduation data for the 2016-17 school year is supplied to ABOR by the Arizona Department of Education, while the National Student Clearinghouse provides information on enrollment in universities, community colleges, and trade schools for the 2017-18 school year. ABOR combines these two sources to produce their report.

Detailed Methodology

The ABOR report is compiled using high school graduation numbers from ADE and postsecondary enrollment figures from the National Student Clearinghouse. This report lists school names, school identification codes, graduation counts, and post-secondary enrollment counts. Please see the section ‘School Geography’ for information on how geographies were determined for each school.

School Geography

To provide data to municipalities on local education conditions and trends, data that is usually released at the school or district level was converted to county and municipal level data. This process provides a picture of how the district and charter schools in an area are performing.

In Arizona, school district boundaries do not necessarily follow city and town boundaries and charter schools are free to locate wherever they please. Additionally, Arizona is an open-enrollment state, meaning that students can enroll in a school that is in a different town from where they reside, and there are an increasing number of online ‘virtual’ schools that may have an office in a certain city, but the students have no particular connection to the city. A final complication is that a school’s street address does not necessarily conform to the physical city in which it resides. For example, Marana High School is located within the Marana town limits. However, it has a Tucson street address even though the Tucson city limits are over 10 miles distant.

To resolve these conflicts, a shapefile containing the geography of 450 municipalities was downloaded from the US Census Bureau was imported into ArcGIS . This file contains the boundaries of 91 incorporated cities and towns in the state plus 359 Census Designated Places (CDP). These are recognized unincorporated population centers such as Sun City and Mayer.

From the National Center for Education Statistics the following was downloaded:

  • The name of all 2,414 district and charter school in Arizona.
  • Latitude and Longitude for each school location.
  • Location address of each school.
  • Unique State ID number for each school.
  • A flag indicating whether or not the school is a ‘virtual school.’

The latitude and longitude was used to map all schools in ArcGIS, and a spatial join was performed with the Census Bureau shapefile to determine the city, town, or CDP that each school is located in.

Schools identified as virtual schools by NCES were labeled as such and not assigned to any municipality. These 61 schools have a total enrollment of 13,180 students, according to the most recent NCES data.

One-hundred and two schools are located on unincorporated county land that is not in a CDP. These were individually examined assigned to a municipality based on the proximity of the school and district to neighboring areas.

2,334 schools were assigned to 212 municipalities across Arizona. These schools had a total enrollment of 1,090,450 in the 2015-16 school year according to NCES.

A small number of schools are listed as “Unallocated” in the data. Nineteen of these were in locations that did not fall in or adjacent to municipal boundaries. These represent rural schools that are remote from population centers as defined by the Census Bureau. An addition 52 schools found in the AzMERIT data are listed as Unallocated because they do not appear in the NCES list of schools in the state. It appears that these are recently opened schools that have yet to appear in the most recent data from NCES.



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