High School Enrollment

High School Enrollment

What does this indicator measure?

This indicator measures the percentage of 15-17 year-olds enrolled in high school.

The connection to health

Every school-age youth should have educational opportunities that prepare them for higher education, a career and the future of their choice. Education is linked to increased life expectancy and reduced chronic disease rates, infant mortality and other negative health outcomes. Education contributes to health in many ways: high school graduates are more likely to find quality jobs with living wages and decent working conditions; school-based learning contributes to the knowledge and cognitive skills necessary to make healthy choices; and students learn social and physiological benefiting behaviors including problem solving, teamwork, self-control, social support, and life skills. High school graduation rates vary across California—reflecting historic and often persistent funding inequities in places with fewer resources and social power, such as African American/Black, Latino, working class communities, and those with low-English proficiency.14

Where to start?

Improving high-school enrollment requires a range of policies designed to ensure that school systems are designed to equitably and effectively serve all students, that education is of the highest quality, and that schools are healthy and safe places to learn.

Perhaps the most fundamental action that local jurisdictions can take to improve educational outcomes is to Ensure Equitable Resource Distribution, to help reverse current inequities and ensure that all California students have the support they need to graduate. This is especially important for young children, as studies show that learning opportunities in early years are crucial for academic success. To help kids get a head start, local jurisdictions and districts should Create Opportunities for Early Learning. They should also Foster Community, Parent and Youth Participation. Engaged communities and families ensure that education systems are responsive, relevant, powerful, and integrated with broader community transformation initiatives.

Quality teaching and social supports are also important ingredient in successful educational systems. Local jurisdictions should Provide Academic and Social Support, especially for children who may fall behind. These supports are an essential tool in closing gaps in educational success for students of color, low-income students and others. Educational success also depends on attracting, retaining, and supporting quality educators and leaders, so local jurisdictions should Train and Support Educators. They should also Improve Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment to ensure that every student has access to a full range of opportunities.

Students learn best when schools are healthy and safe. Local jurisdictions and schools should work to Improve Student Health through healthy food, physical activity, safety and other supports. They should also Create a Safe and Supportive School Climate, which has been linked to improved emotional behavioral and emotional outcomes.