New Report Shows First Look at Postsecondary Retention and Attainment Rates of 2011-12 Student Cohort

March 12, 2019

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — A new report updates the retention and graduation rates of a nationally representative cohort of first-time beginning students. The report, prepared by RTI International and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), provides nationally representative and comprehensive data on student retention, persistence and attainment for those students who began postsecondary education for the first time in the 2011-12 academic year.

The report, Persistence, Retention, and Attainment of 2011-12 First-Time Beginning Postsecondary Student as of Spring 2017, used data from the 2012/17 Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS:12/17). The BPS studies, conducted approximately every 8 years, follow students from when they first begin their postsecondary education and monitor their progress over a period of 6 years. BPS:12/17 is the latest data collection and focuses on the 2011–12 cohort of beginning students.

“It is vital for researchers, educators and policymakers to understand what factors help or hinder students’ success so they can help all students attain a post high school certificate or degree,” said Joshua Pretlow, coauthor of the report and research education analyst at RTI International. “We hope the key findings highlighted in this report will help policymakers and institutions craft effective policies and interventions that will lead to more equitable outcomes in postsecondary education.”

The report provides detailed data on the highest type of undergraduate credential received — certificates, associate’s, or bachelor’s degree — as well as data disaggregated by key student and institutional characteristics including enrollment status and the students’ demographic background.

Among 2011-12 first-time postsecondary students:

  • 18 percent and 13 percent of students who first enrolled in a public 2-year institution had earned an associate’s and bachelor’s degree at any institution, respectively, within 6 years
  • 66 percent of students who first enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program in a 4-year institution earned a bachelor’s degree at any institution within 6 years
  • Overall, 9 percent earned a certificate, 11 percent earned an associate’s degree, and 37 percent earned a bachelor’s degree at any institution within 6 years. Another 12 percent had not earned a credential and were currently enrolled while an additional 32 percent had not earned a credential and were not enrolled in any institution as of spring 2017.

The full BPS:12/17 dataset is currently scheduled to be released to the public in early fall 2019 and will be available on Datalab (https://nces.ed.gov/datalab). The full report is available at https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2019401.