‘Lack of accountability’ North Texas nonprofit founder addresses issues affecting students’ post-high school success

Dan Hooper of ScholarShot says high schools and colleges put too much pressure on students, leading to less success across Texas.

TEXAS, USA — In 2015, Texas adopted the 60-by-30 plan. The goal: 60% of high school graduates in Texas would earn a certificate or degree by 2030. 

But the state’s own data shows we’re moving further away from that goal. Since the plan was launched, Texas students have gone from 33% succeeding to 26% succeeding.

Education expert Dan Hooper who founded the nonprofit ScholarShot says the numbers are a cause for concern because 90% of skilled jobs in Texas require some post-secondary credential.

Hooper started ScholarShot in 2009 to help at-risk students earn a college degree. His program has turned 182 potential dropouts into degree-earners.

“You’ll hear a lot of people say college is not for everyone. That’s not true,” said Hooper. “All our local community colleges provide one-year vocational certificates and with your grants it’s paid for.”

Hooper says there are systemic issues in our education system contributing to this decline and it’s putting thousands of young people on a path to poverty.

According to him, those two issues are: 

Bad or a lack of advisement by high schools Lack of accountability in our university systems.

“Their goal should be college or career readiness, but they’re focused on anything but that,” Hooper said. “It’s hard because a lot of kids get talked out of doing ScholarShot by their school counselors again, to make the system look good. ‘You got into’ — and then they name the four-year school — ‘You need to go there!'”

Data shows students are largely overmatched and enticed into schools where they cannot compete academically or flat out can’t afford. About half of Texas high schoolers attempt college, but only a quarter of them leave with a degree.

“We could cut that down if we just communicated with a little more reality about the world and life to these kids,” said Hooper.

RELATED: How can your student avoid the student loan debt trap? A North Texas non-profit has tips

Hooper says students need a better model of engagement.

“Our universities think that, ‘Well, I’ve got a staff of advisors.’ But if those advisors just wait for kids to advocate for themselves, it’s not going to happen,” he said.

Roughly half of kids who drop out of Texas colleges are in good standing!

“These kids need a lot of hands-on management and guidance, and we provide that,” said Hooper.

ScholarShot’s academic managers are first-generation grads. Each takes on 50 students – and guides them from enrollment to their first job.

“Every CEO in North Texas has told us their number one issue is to find degrees and diversity and they can’t. We just need to give these kids a certificate or more after high school to get them ready for work,” said Hooper.

In 2021, Texas updated its 60×30 plan:

Increasing the target population to 64 years oldRecognizing non-traditional educational creditsIncluding the in-migration of new residents. These modifications improved the state’s outcomes.

ScholarShot released the Gap App, a free tool anyone can download. Enter your high school information and in thirty to forty seconds learn your financial and academic gaps to any two- or four-year public school in Texas.