For many English language learners, remembers. “She looked right through me.”
the endgame isn’t just passing
state exams—it’s attending and
With little information about college admissions processes,
scholarship potential, or SATs, Jose did what others in his
community did: He enrolled in the local community college,
graduating from college.
working his way through the gatekeeper placement exams,
starting off in “basic” (that is, remedial) English, and taking
a course or two each semester, hoping to find the money to
enroll full time.
The Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study
Jose, now a teacher, vividly recalls one day early in his senior year when he stopped by the high school guidance office, along with fellow senior Mark. The secretary, reaching around him, handed Mark the latest SAT bulletin, with a reminder that the (Radford, Berkner, Wheeless, & Shepherd, 2010), which
explored rates of persistence and attrition for a representative
sample of U.S. undergraduates who began postsecondary
education in 2003, found that only 49 percent had achieved
postsecondary closure in six years (a certificate, associate’s
registration deadline was the following week. Jose had arrived degree, or bachelor’s degree). At the six-year mark, 15 percent
from Mexico six years earlier speaking little English, but he
had put in late hours studying, achieving As and Bs and suc-
cessfully passing all the state exams. “I felt like a ghost,” he
remained enrolled either part time or full time, and more
than one-third— 35 percent—exited the postsecondary world
without a certificate or degree of any kind.