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Education

Education is the cornerstone of economic growth. Texas’ ability to remain competitive in a global economy will depend on growing a talented and educated work force.

Public Education

Roughly 3.8 percent of the state’s public elementary and secondary students attend school in the Upper Rio Grande region, which contains 21 public school districts with 251 campuses as well as six charter districts with nine campuses. Upper Rio Grande schools provide early childhood through Grade 12 education for about 177,000 students.

Enrollment in the region rose by 7.1 percent between the 2001-02 and 2007-08 school years, for a net gain of more than 11,700 students. School enrollment in the region, state and nation rose by 7.1 percent, 11.8 percent and 6.0 percent, respectively, over the same period.1

In the 2007-08 school year, the region’s largest independent school districts (ISDs) by enrollment were El Paso ISD in El Paso County, with almost 62,000 students; Ysleta ISD in El Paso County, with nearly 45,000 students; and Socorro ISD in El Paso County, with about 39,000 students. The smallest districts were San Vicente in Brewster County, with 26 students, and Valentine in Jeff Davis County, with 48 students.

Exhibit 34

Ethnicity of Public School Students,
Upper Rio Grande Region, 2001-02 vs. 2007-08 School Years

Ethnicity 2001-02 2007-08
White 10.0% 7.6%
Hispanic 86.2% 88.6%
Black 2.7% 2.8%
Asian/Pacific Islander 0.7% 0.7%
Native American 0.3% 0.3%

Note: Numbers may not total due to rounding.

Source: Texas Education Agency.

The region’s high concentration of Hispanics– accounting for 88.6 percent of enrollment in the 2007-08 school year – means that it is substantially less ethnically diverse than the state as a whole (Exhibit 34).

The region has seen an increase in its number of economically disadvantaged students. Generally, economically disadvantaged students are defined as those students who are eligible for free or reduced price meals through the National School Lunch Program or other public assistance programs. In 2001-02, nearly 122,000 or 73.7 percent of those enrolled were identified as economically disadvantaged. In 2007-08, almost 133,000 or 75.2 percent of the region’s students were classified in this way. The statewide average is 55.3 percent of total enrollment.

Exhibit 35

2007-08 Accountability Ratings,
Upper Rio Grande School Districts

Rating Region Statewide
Exemplary 7.4% 3.5%
Recognized 7.4% 26.8%
Academically Acceptable 70.4% 66.6%
Academically Unacceptable 11.1% 2.6%
Not Rated: Other 3.7% 0.6%

Note: “Not Rated: Other” includes campuses such as alternative education programs or early childhood education centers. These data include charter districts. Numbers may not total due to rounding.

Source: Texas Education Agency.


Exhibit 36

2007-08 Accountability Ratings,
Upper Rio Grande School Campuses

Rating Region Statewide
Exemplary 6.4% 12.2%
Recognized 33.3% 34.4%
Academically Acceptable 52.1% 42.8%
Academically Unacceptable 1.9% 2.5%
Not Rated: Other 6.4% 8.1%

Note: “Not Rated: Other” includes campuses such as alternative education programs or early childhood education centers. These data include charter districts. Numbers may not total due to rounding.

Source: Texas Education Agency.

Accountability

Exhibit 35 compares the accountability ratings for the region’s school districts to state averages for 2007-08. The Upper Rio Grande region exceeded the state average for Exemplary ratings by almost 4 percent.

As of August 2008, of the region’s 27 districts two were rated Exemplary; two were rated Recognized; 19 were rated Academically Acceptable; three were rated Academically Unacceptable; and one was listed as “Not Rated: Other.”

The region also exceeded statewide averages in its number of campuses rated as Academically Acceptable (Exhibit 36).

Of the 267 campuses in the region, including charter schools, 17 were rated Exemplary; 89 were Recognized; 139 were Academically Acceptable; five were Academically Unacceptable; and 17 were listed as “Not Rated: Other” for 2007-08.

Of the region’s six charter districts, two were rated as Exemplary; two were Academically Acceptable; one was Academically Unacceptable; and one was listed as “Not Rated: Other.”

Of the region’s 10 charter campuses, three were rated as Exemplary; four were Academically Acceptable; two were Academically Unacceptable; and one was listed as “Not Rated: Other.”

Among the region’s districts that teach all grade levels, Alpine ISD in Brewster County had the highest percentage of students passing all Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) tests in 2007-08, at 75 percent. (An average for the Upper Rio Grande region is not available because TEA reports district data only as percentages.)

In Marfa ISD, 92.9 percent of graduating students took college entrance exams in the 2006-07 school year, significantly outpacing the statewide average of 68.2 percent. Of the 18 Upper Rio Grande districts for which data are available, 10 had shares above the state average and eight had lower shares.

El Paso ISD had the region’s highest percentage of students taking the tests that scored at or above the criterion score TEA uses to measure college readiness, at 18.3 percent; the district also had more than 70 percent of its students take at least one of the tests. Across the state, 27.1 percent of students who took at least one of the tests scored at or above the criterion score.

Exhibit 37

2007 High School Graduates,
Upper Rio Grande Region vs. Statewide

Graduation Plan Region Statewide
Distinguished Achievement 3.5% 10.8%
Recommended 87.3% 67.0%
Minimum/IEP* 9.2% 22.1%
Distinguished Achievement & Recommended as Percent of Total 90.8% 77.9%

Source: Texas Education Agency.

Outcomes

According to the 2000 Census, almost 66 percent of Upper Rio Grande residents above the age of 25 had a high school diploma, a GED or some higher education. The statewide average is 75.7 percent.6

In the 2006-07 school year, 9,383 students graduated from the region’s high schools, representing about 3.9 percent of the statewide total that year. El Paso ISD had the largest number of graduates (3,251) while Valentine ISD had the smallest number, with just four graduates.

About 3.5 percent of the region’s students graduated under the state’s most stringent graduation plan, the Distinguished Achievement plan; 87.3 percent under the Recommended plan, which is the required plan; and 9.2 percent under the Minimum plan, a less-stringent graduation plan that requires both parental and school approval, or under an individual education plan (IEP) offered through Special Education. The share of Upper Rio Grande students who graduated under the Distinguished Achievement and Recommended plans, at 90.8 percent, far exceeded the statewide average of 77.9 percent (Exhibit 37).

School Finance

In the 2006-07 school year, the Upper Rio Grande region’s total school spending per pupil, including debt service, averaged $9,864. This was about 2.9 percent lower than the statewide average of $10,162 for that year. Ten districts in the region were 20 percent or more above the statewide spending average; 11 districts, including charters, were below the statewide average.

Excluding charter districts, which do not receive funding from local tax revenue, the region’s lowest total tax rate in 2007 was in Valentine ISD, at 91.3 cents per $100 of property value. Canutillo ISD levied the highest rate, at $1.395. The statewide average was $1.187; 13 districts in the Upper Rio Grande region had lower rates.

The region generated a much lower percentage of its school revenue from local taxes (23.8 percent) than the statewide average of 45.8 percent. Marathon ISD received the largest portion of its school funding from local taxes (50.2 percent), while San Elizario ISD had the lowest share (4.7 percent). The region’s percentage of revenue from other local sources, such as transfers and tuition payments, was a bit lower than the state average, at 4.5 percent versus 6.7 percent. San Vicente ISD gained 32.8 percent of its revenue from other local sources, the highest such share in the region; Valentine ISD received the lowest percentage for non-charter schools, at 1 percent.

Average teacher salaries in the region rose by 19.4 percent from 2002-03 to
2007-08.

San Elizario ISD had the lowest property wealth per pupil in 2007, at $33,885, while Marathon ISD led the region with $936,842 per pupil. The regional average was $161,531, or 51.6 percent lower than the statewide average of $333,420.

Texas law requires districts with relatively high property wealth per pupil to share it with less wealthy districts through a process called “equity transfers.” In 2006-07, no districts in the Upper Rio Grande region submitted an equity transfer to other districts. In that year, the statewide average for equity transfers was $312 per pupil.

San Elizario ISD received more than 74 percent of its revenue from the state in 2007, the highest share among the region’s districts that also received some part of their revenue from local taxes. Culberson County-Allamoore ISD received the smallest state share, at 15.8 percent. The regional average for 2007 was 57.7 percent, significantly higher than the statewide average of 37.8 percent. The region also received a larger share of federal funds than the statewide average, at 14 percent versus 9.8 percent.7

Teachers

In the 2007-08 school year, the average Upper Rio Grande teacher salary was $46,803, 1.4 percent above the statewide average of $46,178. Ysleta ISD had the highest average salary at $48,818. (It should be noted, however, that a district’s average salary can vary due to the length of teacher tenure as well as wage levels. In other words, District A may have a higher average salary than District B because it has a higher percentage of experienced teachers, even though its wage levels for various years of experience may be lower than District B’s.)

Average teacher salaries in the region rose by 19.4 percent from 2002-03 to 2007-08, compared to a statewide average rise of 15.5 percent. Burnham Wood Charter School District had the highest percentage increase over this period, at more than 58 percent. The region’s teacher salaries accounted for 28 percent of total district expenditures from all funds in the 2006-07 school year, slightly below the statewide average of 30.1 percent. El Paso Academy had the highest percentage of teacher salaries to total expenditures, at 39.3 percent. In all, seven of the region’s districts devoted a higher percentage of expenditures to teacher salaries than the statewide average, while 18 had lower percentages.

In 2006-07, the region’s average number of students per teacher matched the statewide average, at 14.7. San Vicente ISD had the lowest number of students per teacher, at 4.2.8

Exhibit 38

Higher Education Campuses, Upper Rio Grande Region

There are five institutions of higher education in the Upper Rio Grande region that administer 9 campuses; The University of Texas at El Paso, Sul Ross State University, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at El Paso, University of Texas Health Science Center Houston Teaching Site and El Paso Community College. El Paso Community College has an administrative services center as well as five campuses: Mission del Paso Campus; Northwest Campus; Rio Grande Campus; Transmountain Campus; and the Valle Verde Campus.

Source: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Higher Education

The Upper Rio Grande region has five institutions of higher education, all but one of which are located in or near the city of El Paso. The University of Texas at El Paso and El Paso Community College operate in the city, as do two health-related educational centers affiliated with Texas Tech University and the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Sul Ross State University is in Alpine. El Paso Community College has five campuses in the region (Exhibit 38).9

Enrollment

In fall 2008, 45,776 students were enrolled in Upper Rio Grande colleges and undergraduate universities. Universities accounted for 48.7 percent of the total, while the remaining 51.3 percent were enrolled at El Paso Community College.

The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) had 20,458 students enrolled in fall 2008, with Sul Ross adding 1,841 to the four-year institution total. UTEP’s enrollment has risen by 34.4 percent since fall 2000, while Sul Ross enrollment fell by 8.4 percent over the same period. Statewide four-year enrollment rose by 22.8 percent in those years. Two-year higher education enrollment in the region rose from 17,747 in 2000 to 23,477 in 2008, a 32.3 percent increase. That pace was somewhat slower than the statewide two-year enrollment growth rate of 38.2 percent (Exhibit 39).10

Exhibit 39

Upper Rio Grande Region, Fall Headcount Enrollment 2000 and 2008

Public Institutions Fall 2000 Enrollment Fall 2008 Enrollment Enrollment Change Percent
Change
University of Texas at El Paso 15,224 20,458 5,234 34.4%
Sul Ross State University 2,010 1,841 -169 -8.4%
Regional Total – Public Universities 17,234 22,299 5,065 29.4%
Statewide Total – Public Universities 414,626 509,136 94,510 22.8%
El Paso Community College 17,747 23,477 5,730 32.3%
Regional Total – Two-year Public Colleges 17,747 23,477 5,730 32.3%
Statewide Total – Two-year Public Colleges 431,934 597,146 165,212 38.2%
Regional Total Higher Education 34,981 45,776 10,795 30.9%

Note: Regional data do not include enrollment for branch campuses of health-related institutions in Upper Rio Grande since enrollment is not reported separately to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Source: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Accessibility

The region’s universities accepted an average of 98.0 percent of first-time undergraduate applicants for the fall 2008 semester, well above the statewide average of 74.4 percent. The University of Texas at El Paso accepted 98.6 percent, while Sul Ross State University accepted 97.3 percent of its applicants.

About 14.6 percent of the 5,467 applicants accepted at UTEP and 6.1 percent of the 727 successful applicants at Sul Ross were accepted because they were in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class, compared to 21.8 percent of accepted applicants statewide.11

From fiscal 2000 to fiscal 2008, El Paso Community College significantly increased its awards of degrees and certificates.

Exhibit 40

Four- and Six-Year Graduation Rates, (First-Time, Full-Time, Degree-Seeking Students), Upper Rio Grande Public Universities vs. Statewide Average Fiscal 1999 and 2007

Institution Fiscal 1999 4-year Fiscal 1999 6-year Fiscal 2007 4-year Fiscal 2007 6-year
University of Texas at El Paso 2.6% 26.4% 5.3% 31.9%
Sul Ross State University 8.9% 25.2% 9.7% 24.6%
Statewide Average 18.0% 49.2% 25.3% 56.3%

Source: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.


Exhibit 41

Three- and Six-Year Graduation Rates
(First-time, Full-time, Credential-Seeking Students)
Upper Rio Grande Community Colleges

Institution Fiscal 2000
3-year
Fiscal 2000
6-year
Fiscal 2007
3-year
Fiscal 2007
6-year
El Paso Community College 3.2% 11.3% 6.5% 20.8%
Statewide Average 10.8% 25.7% 11.1% 30.8%

Source: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.


Exhibit 42

Degrees Awarded, Public Universities,
Upper Rio Grande Region vs. State, Fiscal 2000 and 2008

Institution Fiscal 2000 Fiscal 2008 Change Percent Change
University of Texas at El Paso 2,131 3,529 1,398 65.6%
Sul Ross State University 378 375 -3 -0.8%
Statewide Total 78,954 106,582 27,628 35.0%

Source: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.


Exhibit 43

Degrees and Certificates Awarded, Upper Rio Grande Region Two-Year Colleges, Fiscal 2000 vs. 2008

Institution Fiscal 2000 Fiscal 2008 Change Percent Change
El Paso Community College 1,188 2,174 986 83.0%
Statewide 37,395 55,809 18,414 49.2%

Source: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Outcomes

Because some degrees require more than four years of study, and because some students may need more time to graduate, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) compares four-year and six-year graduation rates to measure university outcomes. Graduation rates improved significantly between fiscal 1999 and fiscal 2007 at the University of Texas at El Paso, with the four-year rate doubling and the six-year rate increasing by 21 percent over that time period. Sul Ross also saw an increase in four-year graduation rates but a slight decrease in the six-year rate (Exhibit 40).

Because many community college students go on to a university to obtain a four-year degree, THECB also compares three-year and six-year graduation rates to measure community college outcomes. El Paso Community College’s three-year and six-year graduation rate from fiscal 2000 to fiscal 2007 improved dramatically; the three-year rate doubled and the six-year rate increased by 84 percent. These graduation rates, however, still lag behind the statewide averages (Exhibit 41).

From fiscal 2000 to fiscal 2008, the increase in the number of degrees awarded by UTEP far exceeded the statewide increase of 35 percent, while Sul Ross’ number of degrees remained essentially static (Exhibit 42).

Over the same period, El Paso Community College significantly increased its awards of degrees and certificates, at a higher rate than the statewide increase (Exhibit 43).18

Affordability

From 2002-03 to 2008-09, estimated resident tuition and fees at both public universities in Upper Rio Grande were below the statewide average. The region’s tuition and fees rose sharply over this period, however, as they did throughout the state (Exhibit 44).

From 2002-03 to 2008-09, resident tuition and fees at community colleges statewide rose by an average of $675 or about 60.3 percent; El Paso Community College’s increase was significantly smaller, at 13.1 percent.21

The total cost of attending the university or community college in El Paso, including tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, transportation and personal expenses, was and is higher than the statewide average, while the total cost at Sul Ross remains lower than average.22

Exhibit 44

Upper Rio Grande Region College Costs

Public Universities
Institution Resident Tuition and Fees 2002-03 Resident Tuition and Fees 2008-09 Dollar Change 2002-03 to 2008-09 Percent Change 2002-03 to 2008-09 Resident Total Costs 2002-03 Resident Total Costs 2008-09 Percent Change 2002-03 to 2008-09
University of Texas at El Paso $3,195 $5,926 $2,731 85.5% $14,077 $20,348 44.5%
Sul Ross State University $2,962 $5,058 $2,096 70.8% $9,721 $15,981 64.4%
Statewide Average $3,441 $6,193 $2,752 80.0% $13,047 $18,389 40.9%

Public Community Colleges
Institution Resident Tuition and Fees 2002-03 Resident Tuition and Fees 2008-09 Dollar Change 2002-03 to 2008-09 Percent Change 2002-03 to 2008-09 Resident Total Costs 2002-03 Resident Total Costs 2008-09 Percent Change 2002-03 to 2008-09
El Paso Community College $1,503 $1,700 $197 13.1% $11,413 $13,442 17.8%
Statewide Average $1,120 $1,795 $675 60.3% $9,248 $12,510 35.3%

Note: Resident total costs include tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, transportation and personal expenses.

Source: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Funding

Texas public universities’ total revenue, including tuition and fees, general revenue appropriations, federal funds and institutional funds, rose by 15.6 percent from fiscal 2006 to fiscal 2008. In the Upper Rio Grande region, UTEP’s increase was four-fifths of that, at 12.5 percent. Sul Ross’ revenues grew more slowly, rising by 1.6 percent during the time period (Exhibit 45).23

Exhibit 45

Public Universities Total Revenue Sources, Upper Rio Grande Region and Statewide, Fiscal 2006 and Fiscal 2008

Public Universities
Revenue Source Fiscal 2006 Fiscal 2008 Percent Increase
Tuition and fees $58,201,300 $71,018,233 22.0%
State appropriations $90,915,012 $104,596,701 15.0%
Federal funds $62,611,976 $65,093,233 4.0%
Institutional funds $28,456,364 $29,440,734 3.5%
Total Revenue $240,184,652 $270,148,901 12.5%

Sul Ross State University
Revenue Source Fiscal 2006 Fiscal 2008 Percent Increase
Tuition and fees $6,308,595 $6,713,483 6.4%
State appropriations $25,229,520 $25,813,869 2.3%
Federal funds $8,317,431 $7,927,088 -4.7%
Institutional funds $4,170,579 $4,290,844 2.9%
Total Revenue $44,026,125 $44,745,284 1.6%

Statewide
Revenue Source Fiscal 2006 Fiscal 2008 % Increase
Tuition and fees $2,000,693,293 $2,400,749,604 20.0%
State appropriations $2,599,091,546 $2,949,486,914 13.5%
Federal funds $1,161,122,338 $1,260,930,090 8.6%
Institutional funds $1,375,219,819 $1,638,009,659 19.1%
Total Revenue $7,136,126,996 $8,249,176,267 15.6%

Source: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Total state appropriations for community colleges declined in the 2004-2005 two-year budget period, as they did for El Paso Community College. By the 2008-09 biennium, however, appropriations had recovered. But the college had a smaller percentage gain in appropriations between 2002-03 and 2008-09 than did total state community college appropriations (Exhibit 46).24

Exhibit 46

General Revenue Appropriations, Public Community and Technical Colleges,
Upper Rio Grande Region and Statewide, Fiscal 2002-2009

Institution 2002-03 Biennium 2004-05 Biennium 2006-07 Biennium 2008-09 Biennium Percent Change
2002-03 to 2008-09
El Paso Community College $64,523,858 $58,158,531 $63,284,766 $66,712,421 3.4%
Public Community & Technical College Statewide Total $1,709,158,821 $1,622,914,188 $1,763,151,222 $1,845,292,200 8.0%

Source: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Exhibit 47

Community, State and Technical Colleges, Contact Hours
Fall 2000 vs. Fall 2008, Upper Rio Grande Region

Institution Fall 2000 Fall 2008 Percent Change 2000 to 2008
El Paso Community College 3,255,072 4,161,312 27.8%
Public Community & Technical College Statewide Total 73,370,630 92,048,303 25.5%

Note: Contact hours include only those with a full or part-time faculty instructing by lecture, lab or practicum. Classes taught at an inter-institutional location are excluded.

Source: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Contact hours – the time a professor actually spends in the classroom with students – for community, state and technical colleges rose by 25.5 percent statewide from fall 2000 to fall 2008. In the Upper Rio Grande region, contact hours increased even more at El Paso Community College, with a 27.8 percent growth rate (Exhibit 47).26

The growth in educational achievement will play a vital and positive role in the region’s economic future. The positive upswing in enrollment in Upper Rio Grande colleges and universities will, however, place new demands on the region’s higher educational infrastructure, requiring more instructors to keep pace with the demand for services.


Spring 2008 Commencement at University of Texas at El Paso

PHOTO: University of Texas at El Paso, University Communications

Endnotes

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