Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo

Information about the College-Going Rate (CGR)

High-level overview of the CGR data sources, DataQuest reports, downloadable files, definitions, and rules helpful to understanding the CGR data reports and downloadable data files.

The College-Going Rate (CGR) is defined as the percentage of California public high school students who completed high school in a given year and subsequently enrolled in any public or private postsecondary institution (in-state or out-of-state) in the United States within 12 or 16 months of completing high school. The CGR DataQuest reports and supporting downloadable files are publicly accessible on the California Department of Education (CDE) Post-Secondary Enrollment Data web page.

College-Going Rate Data Sources

The CDE has developed CGR reports and supporting downloadable data files using student-level high school completion data obtained from the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) and student-level postsecondary enrollment data obtained from the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC). The high school completion data was submitted to CALPADS by local education agencies (LEAs) and charter schools. The postsecondary enrollment data was obtained through student-level data matches with the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC), which receives 99 percent of all postsecondary enrollment information from public and private colleges and universities in the United States.

CGR DataQuest Reports

The following state-wide CGR reports are publicly available on DataQuest for multiple academic years:

These DataQuest CGR reports are also available at the county-, district-, and school-levels.

Note: The "College Enrollment Timeframe" default filter view for these reports is the 12 months, which can be changed to the 16 months in the expandable (+) Report Options and Filters section discussed below.

Using the CGR Reports

Similar to other recent DataQuest reports, these CGR reports include expandable (+) Report Description, (+) Report Glossary, and (+) Report Options and Filters sections at the top of each report. Within the expandable (+) Report Options and Filters sections, users will find the following sub-sections that include a number of useful report options and data filters:

  • Report Selection: Within this area, users can select different CGR reports, select a county, district, or school, and change the report year.

  • Data Type Options: Within this area, users can select how the data are viewed within the report; either by Race/Ethnicity, Student Group, or Multi-Year. The default report configuration is by Race/Ethnicity. Within this area, users can also select reports that show data for all counties in the state, all districts in a county, or all schools in a district.

  • Report Filters: Within this area, users can apply a variety of school type filters (i.e., charter/non-charter and alternative/regular schools), demographic and student group filters, high school completer type filters, and college enrollment timeframe filters. Additionally, users can apply one or more filters simultaneously to view data for various student groups. Applied filters are viewable in the "Filtered Enabled" section above each report where the filters can also be reset.

  • Display Options: Within this area, users can change data displayed numbers to be displayed as percentages.

Charter School Filters

Charter school data are removed by default from all district-level DataQuest CGR reports. To include charter school data in district-level reports, select the "Reset Filters" button on district-level reports to show data for “All Schools” OR select the desired School Type filter (i.e., All Schools, Charter Schools, or Non-Charter Schools) from within the expandable Report Options and Filters menu on the DataQuest CGR report. Results produced using the School Type report filter on the DataQuest CGR reports is based on the charter school status during the year of high school completion.

Note: The “non-charter” default filter view is ONLY applicable to district-level reports and is NOT applicable to “Report Totals” on state-, county-, or school-level reports.

Alternative School Filters

Results produced using the Alternative School report filter on the DataQuest CGR reports is based on the Alternative School Accountability Status (ASAS) during the year of high school completion. Prior to 2016, the ASAS for the CGR reports is based on the Alternative School Accountability Model (ASAM). Beginning in 2016, the ASAS for the CGR reports is based on the Dashboard Alternative School Status (DASS). The Alternative School filter is strictly intended to facilitate comparisons of the CGR for traditional charter and non-charter schools by allowing for the removal of alternative schools, which generally serve "high-risk" student populations. For more information regarding the current DASS school accountability can be found at Dashboard Alternative School Status (DASS).

CGR Downloadable Data Files

The following CGR downloadable data files are publicly available on the CDE website for multiple academic years:

These files include state-, county-, district-, and school-level CGR data disaggregated by race/ethnicity, student group, gender, and academic year. Information about the data elements included in these files and how the data are structured is included in the File Layout pages. For detailed examples on how to properly use these data, please refer to the Using the CGR Data File web page.

Overview of CGR Definitions and Rules

In addition to the DataQuest CGR report description and glossary, the following definitions and rules provide important information to help users understand how the CGR data were processed and how the CDE calculated the CGR counts, rates, and the associated demographic and student group determinations.

High School Graduates and Completers

The one-year "cohort" of high school completers used for calculating the CGR was determined using data extracted from the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) Operational Data Store (ODS). For CGR purposes, a high school completer is any student who either (1) graduated from a California public high school with a regular high school diploma or (2) successfully finished high school as a non-graduate completer during the respective CGR reporting period (8/16/Year 1 to 8/15/Year 2), regardless of when they first entered grade 9. Non-graduate completers include students who finished high school without receiving a regular high school diploma (i.e., California High School Proficiency Exam [CHSPE] completers, General Education Development [GED] completers, and adult education high school diploma graduates, but not Special Education Certificates of Completion).

For the CGR reports, the one-year CGR cohort of high school completers is not based on the four-year Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate (ACGR) data, which only includes on-time four-year graduates, the one-year graduates and completers from the annual End-of-Year 3 (EOY 3) submission, or prior cumulative enrollment from the CALPADS ODS or the annual CALPADS EOY 3 submission. When evaluating these potential CGR cohort data sources, the CDE determined that disadvantages exist at this time with each data source for various reasons. As a result, the CDE concluded that the best option for these years was to extract the most recent CALPADS ODS data provided by LEAs and charter schools to create the CGR cohort of high school completers. For these and other reasons, outlined below, the count of high school completers may be different than other CALPADS data sources or LEA sources. Moving forward, the CDE anticipates obtaining the one-year CGR cohort of high school completers from the cumulative enrollment submitted by LEAs and charter schools during the annual CALPADS EOY3 submission.

Postsecondary (College) Enrollments and Reporting Timeframe

The CGR is calculated as a total percentage of high school completers who enrolled in any public or private postsecondary institution (in-state or out-of-state) within 12 or 16 months of completing high school based on student-level high school completion dates in CALPADS. For example, if a student completes high school on 12/1/Year 1, the 12-month period for identifying a postsecondary enrollment in the NSC data ends on 11/30/Year 2. While a student who completes high school on 6/15/Year 1 will receive a 12-month period for identifying a postsecondary enrollment that ends on 6/14/Year 2. Using this methodology for identifying postsecondary enrollments in the NSC data, each student receives the same amount of time to enroll in a postsecondary institution, regardless of when they actually completed high school.

Postsecondary Reporting Category

The CDE evaluated the NSC data for postsecondary enrollments within a 12- and 16-month timeframe from the date of high school completion. The default view on the CGR reports is 12-months; however, a 16-month filter is available on all reports. During this time period, multiple postsecondary enrollment records may be present for any given student at different institutions or institution types. For the CGR reports by institution type, each student was counted in the postsecondary institution type where they were cumulatively enrolled the longest: In-State (i.e., University of California, California State University, California Community College, or Private 2- or 4-Year College) or Out-of-State (i.e., 4-Year College [Public/Private] or 2-Year College [Public/Private]).

Demographic and Student Program Group Determination

The demographic information (e.g., race/ethnicity and gender) available in these CGR reports is based on the most recent student-level data for the CALPADS enrollment record associated with the high school completion status. The student program group information available in these CGR reports is based on annual flags set for each student if they belong to the following student program groups at any point during the respective reporting year of high school completion: English learners, Foster Youth, Homeless Youth, Migrant Youth, Students with Disabilities, and Socioeconomically Disadvantaged Students. This rule differs from the ACGR student program group determinations, which is based on the student belonging to any of the listed student program groups at any point in time during the four-year cohort period. As such, the size of some student program groups is considerably smaller in the CGR reports than in the ACGR reports.

Data Suppression and Privacy

Some postsecondary educational records may be blocked from being shared by the student or institution pursuant to privacy rights outlined in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Blocked directory information records may impact the CGR displayed in these reports. Analysis conducted by the NSC shows that California’s average block rate was 11% over 2012–13, 2014–15, and 2016–17. Information about directory information block rates by institution and state can be found on the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) website at Working With Our Data External link opens in new window or tab. under the "FERPA Implications for Researchers" section.

To further protect student privacy, data are suppressed (*) on the CGR reports if the cell size within a selected student population (high school completers) is 10 or less. On the Race/Ethnicity reports, "Not Reported" is suppressed, regardless of actual cell size, if the student population for one or more other race/ethnicity groups is suppressed.

Differences Between the State and Local CGR Determinations

Many LEAs and charter schools perform similar postsecondary enrollment data matches with the NSC using StudentTracker to calculate local college-going rates. Local determinations may vary from those in the CDE CGR reports for the following reasons: (1) different definitions and timeframes for determining the annual cohort of high school completers; (2) different rules and timeframes for determining postsecondary enrollments and reporting categories; (3) different definitions and rules for assigning demographic and student program group determinations; (4) differences in the student-level data submitted to the NSC for matching; and (5) differences in the which NSC postsecondary educational records may be blocked from sharing. For these reasons, it is unlikely that the CDE CGR data will exactly match locally determined college-going counts and rates.

Questions: Data Reporting Office | | 916-327-0219 
Last Reviewed: Thursday, July 13, 2023
Recently Posted in Accessing Educational Data
  • DataQuest Update, Issue #19 (added 02-Feb-2024)
    DataQuest is an online data reporting resource that provides access to a wide variety of data reports and downloadable data files
  • File Structure: SPED Data by Program Setting (added 30-Jan-2024)
    File structure for downloadable files containing Special Education (SPED) Enrollment by Program Setting data disaggregated by race/ethnicity, disability category, age range, grade span, gender, and English learner status.