Higher education is any education beyond high school and can include coursework at two and four-year colleges or universities, professional and graduate programs, vocational or trade schools, and career training programs. Research shows the importance of higher education in preparation for jobs and career, as well as for developing general skills such as maturity and getting along with others. Higher education is directly related to high school graduation and the successful completion of college admission tests .
OSSE tracks the number of DC students continuing on to higher education and their progress toward obtaining a degree or professional certification. Each year the District monitors college enrollment rates, college graduation rates, and the credit accumulation of high school graduates. This information allows OSSE to know how many students attend and complete college and how long it takes students to complete degree programs. The information also helps identify areas of improvement in the public school system to better prepare students for higher education.
For students enrolling in college, OSSE additionally tracks student matriculation, college retention rates, college persistence rates, the professional certifications of graduates, and longer-term employment through the Statewide Longitudinal Education Data System (SLED). SLED allows the District to evaluate local education efforts and improve education planning in the future.
OSSE’s Office of Higher Education and Financial Services (HEFS) is designed to help DC students prepare for college. The office provides information, services and resources and manages student enrichment and college preparation programs like the OSSE Scholars Program and the DC Tuition Assistance Grant Program (DCTAG). The office additionally hosts an annual Post-Secondary Conference to provide educators, college, career counselors, and college access providers with tools to help students access and achieve success in both college and career education.