Excelencia Reports America’s Future Tied to Latino College Graduation Rates

First, some background. President Obama set a goal in 2009 known as the American Graduation Initiative. It proposes that by the year 2020 America will lead the world again in higher education by increasing community college graduates and certificate completers. To reach this goal, the federal government has strengthened Pell Grants, simplified the application for financial aid and created competitive grants to improve and expand reforms that have been effective.

The initiative is a response to the latest international figures showing America slipping from first place to 12th place in degree completion among 36 industrialized nations. The initiative states that jobs requiring at least an associate degree are projected to grow twice as fast as those requiring no college experience. The plan to reform our nation’s community colleges calls for an additional five million community college graduates by 2020. President Obama described new initiatives to increase the effectiveness and impact of community colleges, raise graduation rates, modernize facilities and create new online learning opportunities. He said, “These steps – an unprecedented increase in the support for community colleges – will help rebuild the capacity and competitiveness of America’s work force.”
Deborah Santiago, co-founder and VP of policy and research, Excelencia in Education, and Patrick Callan, founding president, National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, are co-authors of Ensuring America’s Future: Benchmarking Latino College Completion to Meet National Goals: 2010 to 2020, published in September 2010.
Santiago and Callan say that currently in the United States 39 percent of adults aged 25 to 64 have earned an associate degree or higher, and with expected growth at the current rate, by the year 2020, 44 percent will have a two-year degree or higher. In contrast, Canada, already the world leader in college degree attainment, will be at 50.8 percent by 2020. To pass Canada by the target date and once again lead the world, America would have to produce an additional 13.3 million degrees by 2020.
That goal cannot be reached without closing the White-Hispanic achievement gap in higher education attainment. The report says that while all groups will need to increase college degree attainment to meet the president’s goal, the target cannot be reached without improving Hispanic degree attainment.

Proportional Distribution of Racial Groups in the Educational Pipeline

Note: Percentages are from total White, Latino and Black students and do not include other racial groups. Sources: U.S. Census Bureau Current Population Survey, October 2008; NCES, IPEDS, 2008 Headcount and Completions Files.

Latinos now have the lowest college completion rates of any group. According to the U.S. Census in 2008, only 19 percent of Latino adults had earned an associate degree or higher. The Census shows White degree attainment at 39 percent and Black attainment at 28 percent. For Asians in America, 59 percent had earned an associate degree or higher in 2008.
With the demographic shifts in our population and the great increase of Hispanics in America, educating this group is critical to our standing in the world not only in terms of education but also in terms of the global economy. By the year 2020, Latinos are projected to represent about 20 percent of the 18- to 64-year-old population. In 2008, Latinos made up 15 percent of the American adult population.

Current Disparities in Degree Production Associate and Bachelor’s Degrees Awarded per 1,000 18- to 29-Year-Olds (2007-08)

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, October 2008; NCES, IPEDS 2007-08: Completions Final Release Data File.

The young Latino population will grow even more rapidly. The projections for 2020 put Latinos at 25 percent of the American population aged 18 to 29 years old. At the same time that we see this growth in the Latino share of the population, we also see that competitive jobs in the U.S. will increasingly require postsecondary education. For these reasons, increasing the number of college graduates overall must focus on improving Hispanic students’ degree-completion rates or the nation’s goals will never be met.
Excelencia in Education, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, contributes to the nation’s challenge by focusing on young adults generally and Latino students in particular.
To inform policy and practice in higher education and thereby create a kind of roadmap, Excelencia plans to release an update on progress towards college degree completion each year from 2010 to 2020. This will bring attention to the national college completion agenda, and Excelencia will disaggregate projections by race/ethnicity, to work toward eliminating education attainment gaps among groups.
The report provides informative snapshots showing the current condition of Latinos in education. Looking at the education pipeline, Latinos make up 21 percent of ninth-graders but only 13 percent of high school graduates. Then again, there is a drop-off of Latinos in college. While 13 percent of Latino high school graduates enroll in college, only 11 percent earn a certificate, a two-year or a four-year degree.
Contrast Latino attainment with that of White students. The percentage of White students increases along the education pipeline – a greater percentage of White students makes it through high school and completes college (See “Proportional Distribution of Racial Groups in the Educational Pipeline”).

Current Disparities in Degree Production Associate and Bachelor’s Degrees Awarded per 1,000 25- to 64-Year-Olds (2007-08)

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, October 2008; NCES, IPEDS 2007-08: Completions Final Release Data File.

Degree completion clearly shows attainment gaps between Whites and Hispanics, but it is markedly sharper for young adults 18 to 29 years old, the traditional college age, than for all adults 25 to 64 years old. Compare the graphs for “Current Disparities in Degree Production Associate and Bachelor’s Degrees Awarded per 1,000 18- to 29-Year-Olds (2007-08)” with the same graph for 25- to 64-year-olds for the same year.
Among college-age adults (18- to 29-year-olds), the White-Latino gap was almost 27 percent, the difference between attainment for Whites in this age group (49.1 percent) and Latinos (21.7 percent). The gap between Whites and Latinos for the all-adult category (25- to 64-year-olds) was about 5 per-cent; the difference between Whites, 14 percent; and Latinos, 8.9 percent.
The Excelencia report tracks the progress of degrees awarded by state for the last three years as well as nationally. These data are crucial for lowering education attainment gaps.
The report states that the increase of undergraduate degrees earned nationally from AY 2005-06 to AY 2007-08 was 6 percent. Further, in that three-year period, Hispanics had the largest growth in undergraduate degrees (12.5 percent) earned by any demographic group.
The data show that of this total Hispanic degree growth, in 2008, 60 percent of the additional degrees earned for Hispanics clustered in three states –California, Florida and Texas. Over the next 10 years, there will be continued significant Latino population growth in these states. Indeed, California and Texas are projected to become majority minority population states by 2020. In raw numbers, California is expected to see a population growth of eight million Latinos; and Texas, a 1.3 million Latino population growth over the next decade.
And as these states’ Latino populations expand, they will see their college populations increase because 80 percent of Latinos stay in state to attend college.
Thus, the focus on California, Florida and Texas is crucial for these two reasons – they will experience some of the largest increases in the Hispanic population, and the majority of college-age Hispanics will stay in state for college.
The increase in Hispanic students’ degree attainment in California, Texas and Florida might be attributed in part to an increase in enrollment numbers. Additionally, these states might be showing positive effects of state initiatives, as in the case of California. (Colleen Moore and Nancy Shulock at the Institute for Higher Education Leadership & Policy at California State University-Sacramento discussed California’s model for narrowing attainment gaps in a report titled Divided We Fail: Improving Completion and Closing Racial Gaps in California’s Community Colleges, October 2010.)
Looking at the top 10 states with increased undergraduate degrees conferred on Latinos and for all races/ethnicities from 2005 to 2008, California leads the way with an increase for Latinos of 8,605; Texas fol-lows with 4,436; Florida, 3,932; Arizona, 828; Illinois, 739; New Jersey, 679; Massachusetts, 568; Pennsylvania, 559; Virginia, 545; and Colorado, 542. These represent percentage increases ranging from 6.6 percent in Illinois to 28.3 percent in Virginia.
The report provides tables of the most recent public data available not only on graduation rates, but also degree completions per 100 FTE stu-dents, the equity gap in completion for Latinos and Whites for the nation, analysis of degree completion data for the top three states mentioned above, and degree completion data analysis for a host of other selected states. All these metrics can help guide our nation in its effort towards general expansion of degree completion and the more specific goal of eliminating race/ethnicity gaps in educational attainment.
Ensuring America’s Future by Increasing Latino College Completion is an initiative that brings the public’s attention to the role Latinos play in meeting the nation’s college degree completion role. How exactly will the challenge be met?
There are many stakeholders that will continue to play a role: community-based and national organizations in education, business and the work force, Latino advocacy groups, media, and high-level postsecondary and public policy leaders.
Excelencia’s initiative analyzes data that benchmark national and state-level Latino college degree completion. It can use its unique national position to engage stakeholders at national, state and institutional levels in deliberations geared toward implementing an outcomes-driven plan promoting effective policies and practices in education.
According to the report, accelerating Latino college degree attainment involves four basic requirements: intentionality in serving Latino students; delineation of degree completion goals and measures of progress; commitment to practices and policies that produce positive results; and clarity about the federal, state and institutional policy environments that affect Latino student success.
The competitive/education-based global economy and the demographic changes in America necessitate producing more earners of certificates and two- and four-year degrees in general, and greatly increasing certificate and degree completion among Latinos.
The full report is available online at www.edexcelencia.org/research/EnsuringAmericasFutureBenchmarking.

New Report Confirms that Higher Education Benefits Students and Society

Sandra Baum, Jennifer Ma and Kathleen Payea of the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center released a document in September titled Education Pays 2010: The Benefits of Higher Education for Individuals and Society as part of the center’s Trends in Higher Education Series. 

The report provides crystal clear evidence that higher education makes a huge difference in the lives of degree holders in many ways, including finances, and that persistent disparities in college participation and completion are leaving large segments of the American population behind. The uneven rates of enrollment and completion in higher education across different segments of the American population should be a critical concern to our nation.

Unemployment Rates Among Individuals Ages 25 and Older, By Education level, 1992-2009

Unemployment Rates Among Individuals Ages 25 and Older, By Education level, 1992-2009

The evidence is overwhelming that higher education improves people’s lives, makes our economy more efficient, and contributes to a more equitable society. The existing gaps in participation and success are detrimental not only to individual lives, but also to society as a whole.
As an educator, I see the benefits in broad terms. Higher education has the potential to transform people’s lives in positive ways by broadening their horizons, helping them develop critical and analytical thinking skills, fostering an appreciation for diversity and seeing multiple perspectives on issues, and enhancing their future job satisfaction.
Education Pays 2010 found numerous nonmonetary benefits to individ-uals who earned bachelor’s degrees. It confirmed my view that higher edu-cation enhances job satisfaction. People with bachelor’s degrees and higher are more likely to be very satisfied with their work, and they report that their work seems important and gives them a sense of accomplishment.
The researchers also found that college-educated adults are more likely than others to receive health insurance and pensions from their employ-ers. College-educated adults are more likely to be active citizens, donating their time to volunteer activities and voting, than high school graduates. Additionally, college-educated adults smoke less, exercise more, are more likely to breastfeed their babies, and are more likely to have lower obesity rates. When the health risks of smoking became public, and ever since, smoking among college graduates has been on the decline.
Thus people holding college degrees are more likely to have healthier lifestyles than others – and this reduces health care costs both for the indi-viduals themselves and for society.
Level of education is also correlated with engaging in educational activities with their children. The percentage of parents who read to their children, for example, is positively related to their own level of education – the more edu-cation parents have, the more they read to their children. Their children are better prepared for school than children of less-educated parents.
In today’s world, many people analyze the benefits of higher education only in terms of dollars and cents. Does a college education pay off finan-cially? With the current cost of tuition and a contracting job market, that question is legitimate. If one were to focus specifically on the question of the financial benefits of higher education, the answer would be an unequivocal “Yes.”
That affirmative answer applies not only to the individuals themselves who earn the degree, but the financial payoff is to society at large. Higher education obviously provides a great return on the investment. As the report states, federal, state and local governments enjoy increased tax rev-enues from college graduates and spend less on income support programs for them, providing a direct financial return from investments in postsec-ondary education.
In addition, social support programs such as the Food Stamp Program and the National School Lunch Program were far less likely to support col-lege graduates (about 1 percent) than high school graduates (8 percent) in the year 2008. Incarceration costs are also far lower for college gradu-ates than for high school graduates.

Note: Based on the sum of median 2008 earnings for full-time year-round workers at each age from 25 to 64 for each education level. No allowance is made for the shorter work life resulting from time spent in college or out of the labor force for other reasons. Future earnings are discounted at a 3 percent annual rate to account for the reality that, because of forgone interest, dollars received in the future are not worth as much as those received today. This represents real interest, as all earnings are in 2008 dollars. Discounting does not have a large impact on the lifetime earnings ratios. Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, 2009; calculations by the authors

Note: Based on the sum of median 2008 earnings for full-time year-round workers
at each age from 25 to 64 for each education level. No allowance is made for the
shorter work life resulting from time spent in college or out of the labor force for
other reasons. Future earnings are discounted at a 3 percent annual rate to account for
the reality that, because of forgone interest, dollars received in the future are not
worth as much as those received today. This represents real interest, as all earnings
are in 2008 dollars. Discounting does not have a large impact on the lifetime earnings
Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, 2009; calculations by the authors

Looking at financial benefits for the individuals themselves, the report states that not only are people with higher levels of education much more likely to earn more money across their lifetimes, they are also more likely to be employed. The report states that in 2006 there was a 2.3 percentage point difference between unemployment rates for college graduates com-pared with high school graduates. In 2009, the increase in unemployment difference between bachelor’s degree holders and high school graduates increased to 5.1 percent.
Comparing unemployment rates between people with at least a B.A. degree with high school graduates shows that for the former group, unem-ployment rates are consistently about half. One accompanying chart pro-vides a visual representation of unemployment rates among adults 25 and older, by educational level, for the time spread 1992 to 2009. The chart shows that those with higher levels of education are more likely to be employed and that the pattern is consistent over time.
Despite the fact that unemployment rates are higher for Blacks and Hispanics in our society than for Whites, unemployment rates decrease markedly as the level of education increases for these groups.
Certainly in the current recession, we have seen increases in unemploy-ment among college graduates. Between 2008 and 2009, the unemploy-ment rate for college graduates rose from 2.6 percent to 4.6 percent. However, for high school graduates the unemployment rate increase is far sharper – rising from 5.7 percent to 9.7 percent. By early 2010, data show a recovery in employment but only for college graduates.
In 2008, the median earnings of bachelor’s degree recipients working full time year round were $55,700. Their salaries were $21,900 more than those of high school graduates. Having some college but no degree also translated to earnings 17 percent greater than those with only a high school diploma.
Median tax payments of full-time employees with professional degrees were more than three and a half times higher than those of high school graduates. After-tax earnings were almost three times higher for profes-sional degree holders. The average person holding a B.A. degree will prob-ably earn about two-thirds more than a typical high school graduate over a four-decade working lifespan.
The report shows that the financial benefits associated with additional years of education beyond high school and the gaps in earnings by educa-tional attainment have both increased over time. Note that in 2008, women between age 25 to 34 with a B.A. degree or further graduate education earned 79 percent more than the median earnings of women with a high school diploma. For men of the same age and in the same year, the median earnings increase was 74 percent. Compare the median earnings for both groups just a decade earlier – the numbers were 60 percent and 54 per-cent, respectively. The gaps in earnings are widening.
Another chart shows the expected lifetime earnings of all levels of edu-cation as compared to high school graduates. The data show the greater earnings ratio of people with some college but no degree and then the marked increases at all levels of degree achievement from associate degrees to professional degrees. From the perspective of the strictly monetary payoff of a college education, the numbers are dramatically persuasive.
Not only do we see income gaps between the college-educated and those without college, gaps in educational attainment also exist between White middle-class students and low-income and minority students, and again, those gaps are widening. In the time period 1998 to 2004, the gap between White and Black high school graduates who enrolled in college within a year of high school graduation fluctuated between eight and 10 percentage points. By 2008, that gap increased to 14. Enrollment gaps between White and Hispanic students have narrowed between 2000 and 2008, from 19 points in 2000 to eight in 2008. While that narrowing is encouraging news, the persistent degree completion gap between Whites and Hispanics is discouraging especially given the projected growth in the Hispanic population.
The research shows that enrollment patterns differ across income lev-els, and that graduation rates are a function of type of institution attended. For example, in AY 2007-08, 40 percent of students from families with income levels below $40,000 enrolled in public two-year colleges and 8 percent enrolled in for-profit institutions. Only 17 percent of students from families with incomes of $120,000-plus enrolled in public two-year col-leges, and 1 percent attended for-profit institutions.
The report notes that, in general, high school graduates from low-income families, those students whose parents did not go to college, and Black and Hispanic students have lower college enrollment rates and have much lower educational attainment rates. The researchers attempt to ana-lyze these demographic disparities.
Baum et al. say that while enrollments for Black and Hispanic students have risen over time, they chase a moving target of White and Asian college enrollment rates. Since the data show that type of institution attended is correlated with degree completion, the researchers question whether focusing on enrollment is sufficient. Should the focus also include helping students from these demographic groups choose institutions that are a bet-ter academic match for them? The report cites previous research support-ing their findings related to the undermatch phenomenon – the probability of earning a B.A. degree is significantly increased by enrolling in the most selective institution for which students qualify.
For full-time students who started studying toward a B.A. degree at a four-year college or university, 57 percent earned the degree within six years from that institution. Completion rates averaged 65 percent at private colleges and universities (nonprofit), 55 percent at public four-year insti-tutions and 22 percent at private for-profit institutions.
Another finding worth noting is that within each racial/ethnic group, bachelor’s degree completion rates are more than twice as high in the pri-vate not-for-profit sector as in the for-profit sector. Moreover, completion rate gaps between Black students and White and Asian students are larger in the for-profit sector than in the public and private not-for-profit sectors.
The STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) are critical for America to be competitive in a global, knowledge-based economy. Here again we see demographic differences both in enrollment and in degree completion. Male students are about twice as likely as female students to enroll in STEM fields. About 40 percent of both men and women who enter STEM fields complete some type of credential; about one-fourth of both male and female students earn a bachelor’s degree in a STEM field.
About twice as many Asian students as White, Black or Hispanic stu-dents enroll in a STEM field, and of those, completion rates are lowest for Black and Hispanic students. Only 16 percent of Black and Hispanic stu-dents who enroll in a STEM field earn a B.A. degree compared to about 30 percent of Asian and White students who do so.
The research emphasizes that the focus for improving educational opportunities should be twofold: First, it should involve finding ways to provide opportunities for both postsecondary preparation and access. Second, the data indicate the focus should be on helping more students make decisions that maximize their chances for degree completion.
The complete report can be downloaded at http://trends.college-board.org.

Pew Research Center Reports on Latinos Coming of Age in America

This report is part of a series by the Pew Research Center looking at how America’s next generation, known as “millennials,” is reshaping our nation. Within this context, it is necessary to focus specifically on Latinos since never before in American history has a minority ethnic group made up such a large share of this coming-of-age group. Well known by now is the fact that Hispanics are the largest and youngest minority group in America, with one in four newborns and one in five schoolchildren being of Hispanic background.

Between Two Worlds: How Young Latinos Come of Age in America focuses on the attitudes, values, social behaviors, family characteristics, economic well-being, educational attainment and labor force characteristics of Hispanics16 to 25 years old. Millennials are usually considered the group born between1982 and 2002, so this report has broadened the age range of this generation.

Research methodology involved a Pew Hispanic Center telephone survey of a nationally representative sample of more than 2,000 Latinos and the center’s analysis of government demographic data, including economic, education and health databases.

Forty years of Hispanic immigration have resulted in a very large second generation of U.S.-born young Hispanic Americans on the cusp of adulthood. How different from a mere 15 years ago when nearly half of all Hispanics aged 16 to 25 were immigrants.

In today’s world, only 34 percent of this age group are immigrants.Thirty-seven percent of 16- to 25-year-old Latinos are the U.S.-born children of immigrants, and another 29 percent are of third-and-higher generations.

Also worth noting, Hispanics make up 18 percent of all 16- to 25-year-olds in America, and several states have a much larger proportion of them.In New Mexico, young Latinos make up 51 percent of all young people int hat state; in California, 42 percent; in Texas, 40 percent; in Arizona, 36percent; in Nevada, 31 percent; in both Florida and Colorado, 24 percent.

In terms of country of origin, 68 percent of young Latinos are of Mexican background. Mexican families, on average, have less education than Latinos from other countries. More than 40 percent of young Latinos say their parents have less than a high school diploma. This compares with 25 percent of young Latinos of non-Mexican heritage who say the same of their parents.

hispanic outlook jobs in higher education

Since this report analyzes values and attitudes as well as quantitative data, some discrepancies arise between the two. On the one hand, young Latinos report satisfaction with their lives and are optimistic about their futures. They place a high value on education, hard work and career success. In fact, young Latinos place a higher value on careers than the full population of the same age group.

hispanic outlook jobs in higher education

On the other hand, data show that young Latinos are more likely than other American youths to drop out of school and to become teenage parents. They are more likely than White and Asian-American young people to live in poverty, and they have high levels of exposure to gangs.

The disconnect between reality and attitudes and aspirations reflects a gap that may be in part a function of conflicting identities. Many Latino youths,first and second generation, seem to be straddling two worlds as they adapt to American ways while holding onto traditions of their ethnic backgrounds.

Using data from the March 2009 Current Population Survey and the 2009National Survey of Latinos and others, the chapter of this report titled “Education:The Gap Between Expectations and Achievement” also points to gaps between values and reality. Young Latinos are just as likely as other young people to say that a college education is important for success in life. Indeed, Pew Social &Demographic Trends (2009) showed that the share of young Hispanics who agree that a college degree is important for getting ahead in life is significantly greater (88 percent) than that of young people in general (74 percent).

Despite these positive beliefs, young Hispanics have lower enrollment and educational attainment rates than any other group in America. In March 2009,nearly half of 16- to 24-year-old Latinos were not enrolled in either high school or college, a higher share than any other group. And the percentage of Hispanic youths enrolled in college is significantly lower than that of non-Hispanics.

Of those enrolled in college, the report validates what previous studies have shown – Latino youths are more likely to attend college on a part-time basis, nearly a quarter. And nearly double the rate among Whites of12.4 percent. The unfortunate correlation between part-time enrollment and failure to graduate has been well established by numerous studies.

When educational attainment rather than enrollment is compared,again Latinos do not fare well. The Latino dropout rate was nearly twice that of Black youths, three times that of White youths and more than four times that of Asian-American youths.

High school completion rates among Latinos 18 to 24 years old were much lower than average, and among those with high school diplomas,only 38.8 percent of Latinos ages 16 to 24 were enrolled in college. That number for all youths was 45.6 percent; Whites, 46.4 percent; Blacks, 43.1percent; and Asian-Americans, 66 percent.

Here the high school dropout rate among Hispanic youths is driven by the foreign born. Whereas almost 33 percent of foreign-born Latino youths drop out of high school, only 9.9 percent of native-born Latino youths do so. Native-born Latino high school dropout rates are similar to those of young Black Americans.The Latino dropout rate is double that of Whites, triple that of Asian-Americans.

High school completion rates follow similar patterns. Native-born Latinos have high school completion rates similar to the national average. Similarly, there is not much of a difference between native-born high school completers who are Latino and enrolled in college and college enrollment rates of all youths.

Perception gaps abound when these groups respond to questions about the value of higher education and their own personal aspirations. Foreign-born young Latinos place an even higher importance on the value of a college education than do native-born Latinos, with female Hispanic immigrants surpassing males as seeing a college education as important for success – 95 percent to 84 percent, respectively.

Moreover, Latino youths say that their parents also place a high value on a college education, a finding consistent with previous research. Yet when asked about their own personal expectations for higher education,foreign-born Latinos have relatively low education expectations, with fewer than 30 percent planning to get a bachelor’s degree.

Why Not?

This report tackles the critically important question that researcher shave been asking for quite some time – why don’t young Latinos continue their education and complete college degrees?

To quote Pew’s findings: “The biggest reason for the gap between the high value Latinos place on education and their more modest expectations to finish college appears to come from financial pressure to support a family. Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of all 16- to 25-year-old survey respondents who cut their education short during or right after high school say they did so because they had to support their family. Other reasons include poor English skills (cited by about half of respondents who cut short their education), a dislike of school and a feeling that they don’t need more education for the careers they want (each cited by about four in 10 respondents who cut their education short).”

The discrepancies noted between foreign-born and native-born educational enrollments and achievement can be partly explained by this same factor of foreign-borns’ need to help support a family. Making up 34 per-cent of all Latino youths, foreign-born young Latinos are much more likely than native-born young Latinos to be supporting or helping to support a family, either in this country or in their native country.

Nearly two-thirds of immigrant Hispanics ages 18 to 25 years old say they send money to family members in their native countries as compared with just 21 percent of their native-born peers, reported Livingston and Kochlar in2009. And in 2007, 29 percent of all foreign-born female Hispanics between16 and 25 were mothers, compared with 17 percent of native-born female Hispanics and 12 percent of White females, reported Fry in 2009.

The immigrant and native-born gaps in education attainment are apparent from the data. Young foreign-born Hispanics appear to have family financial commitments that supersede their ability to pursue higher education, despite the high value they say they place on a college degree.

As in many immigrant groups, second, third and higher generations fare better in terms of education attainment. What is surprising is that on a number of other measures, native-born young Latinos do no better than foreign-born youth, and in some cases, they do worse. One such area is gang membership, with native-born Latino youths about twice as likely as their foreign-born peers to have ties to a gang, to have gotten into a fight,or to have carried a weapon in the past year. Native-born young Latinos are also more likely to be in prison than foreign-born Latino youths.

Another interesting surprise comes from comparisons among first-generation (immigrants themselves), second-generation (American-born children of immigrants), and third- and higher-generation Latino youth (native-born grandchildren or even more far-removed descendants of immigrants). Painting the same murky picture as with gang membership, the data show that teen parenthood rates and high school dropout rates are actually much lower among the second generation than the first, but the rates appear higher among the third generation than the second. The same is true of poverty rates.

This report illuminates some of the difficulties and struggles of Latino youths and presents a broader perspective than previously understood.

For a more complete analysis, please consult the report: Pew Hispanic Center. Between Two Worlds: How Young Latinos Come of Age in America, Washington, D.C. (Dec. 11, 2009). Available online at pewhispanic.org/files/reports/117.pdf.

Angela Provitera McGlynn, author and national consultant on teaching and learning, taught psychology at a community college for 35 years.



Education Trust Reports on Graduation Rates and Minorities ... and Which Schools Are Doing Best

“Higher education institutions that place success at the heart of their mission make it a realistic goal for every student. ... For both moral and economic reasons, colleges need to ensure that their institutions work better for all of the students they serve.” So says Jennifer Engle, assistant director of higher education at the Education Trust and co-author, with Mamie Lynch, a higher education research and policy analyst, of two reports dealing with minority student success.

When Engle says “For both moral and economic reasons,” she is emphasizing what many others have determined. Even the hardhearted who might not be willing to improve minority education because it is the right thing to do must be persuaded of the imperative to do so if America is to compete in a global economy.

The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education Magazine

Big Gaps, Small Gaps: Some Colleges and Universities Do Better than Others in Graduating Hispanic Students and Big Gaps, Small Gaps: Some Colleges and Universities Do Better than Others in Graduating African- American Students, both released in August  010, go beyond looking at national college-graduation averages. Instead they examine disaggregated sixyear graduation rates at hundreds of America’s public and private colleges and universities.

The overall national average of students earning bachelor’s degrees within six years (of enrollment) is 57 percent, a proportion already troublesome. When minority student graduation rates are added to the mix, the numbers are more dismal. Nationally, 60 percent of White students earn a bachelor’s degree within six years while only 49 percent of Hispanics and 40 percent of African-Americans do so.

These national averages tell only a limited story. Big Gaps, Small Gaps, using several years of data from College Results Online, a Webbased tool that presents graduation rates by race, ethnicity and gender for four-year colleges and universities throughout the United States, and identifies institutions having remarkable success in graduating minority students.

What do these institutions do that institutions with poorer graduation results are not doing? The usefulness of such an analysis is obvious – those that are eliminating or minimizing ethnic/racial gaps should be carefully studied and widely imitated. The practices these stellar institutions employ can be a model for other institutions.

Too many colleges have large gaps between White students and minority students in their graduation rates. Indeed, the report notes that at nearly two-thirds of the colleges and universities in the study, fewer than half the African-American students earn a degree. Likewise at public colleges and universities where the great majority of Hispanic students attend, more than 60 percent of those institutions graduate fewer than 50 percent of Hispanic students in six years.

What both reports make clear is that these large gaps are not inevitable. Institutions with a similar student body and similarities across other crucial dimensions vary in their student success rates.

Exemplifying this point are two peer institutions, the University of Illinois-Chicago and the University of North Carolina (UNC)- Greensboro. At the former, there is a 22 percent point gap in success rates between Whites and African-American students. The degree completion rate over a six-year period for Whites is 52 percent; and for African-Americans, 30 percent. UNC-Greensboro, on the other hand, graduates 56 percent of African-American students and 51 percent of White students within six years.

How can we account for such discrepancies? In an Aug. 9 press release, the vice provost of UNCGreensboro, Alan Boyette, attributed UNC’s equitable graduation rates to three guiding factors: student success is part of the school’s mission; helping students graduate rather than recruiting new students is cost-effective; UNC has a systemwide focus on student retention and graduation goals.

The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education Magazine

Disparities in graduation rates can also be seen between comparable small and private universities. Christian University in Lubbock, Texas, with 15 percent Hispanic students, graduates only 22 percent of these students while it graduates 46 percent of its White students. Woodbury University enrolls 31 percent Hispanic students and graduates 62 percent, a higher percentage than that of its White students.

Hispanic student achievement is critical to our nation’s ability to compete in a global economy, given that Hispanics will constitute nearly one-third of the work force in the year 2050. Currently, Hispanics are the least-prepared educationally of all groups in America to contribute to and benefit from an economy for which higher education is a prerequisite. At this time, only 13 percent of young adult Hispanics have bachelor’s degrees compared with 21 percent of African-Americans and 39 percent of Whites.

The report notes that although colleges do need to enroll more Hispanics to close the degree completion gap, it is equally important that they improve the graduation rates of their current Hispanic students.

Private institutions graduate higher proportions of Hispanic students, among colleges and universities studied in this report. However, the great majority of Hispanic students, 80 percent, attend public colleges and universities. As mentioned earlier, more than 60 percent of these public institutions graduate less than half of their Hispanic students. Even worse, almost 25 percent of these institutions graduate less than 35 percent of their Hispanic students within a six-year period.

Many public and private institutions graduate White and Hispanic students at comparable rates. These institutions vary in all kinds of ways. They vary considerably in terms of selectivity. For example, Washington University in St. Louis is highly selective, with a median SAT score of 1450 points for entering freshmen. Students at the College of Mount St. Vincent in the Bronx, N.Y., on the other hand, are admitted with SAT scores around 940.

Additionally, institutions with comparable White-Hispanic graduation rates vary in terms of size, ranging from small private institutions with fewer than 1,200 enrollees to large public colleges and universities with enrollments of 24,000. They also differ in the makeup of their student bodies. Eleven institutions are designated HSIs because they are accredited degree-granting institutions at which at least 25 percent of the full-time equivalent undergraduate population is Hispanic. Some of the HSIs are concentrated in states with high-density Hispanic populations; others are scattered around the United States.

Some institutions have shown consistently good Hispanic student graduation rates over time while others have made significant progress over time. Florida International University (FIU), located in Miami, and the University of San Francisco in California have both had consistent success graduating Hispanic students. Looking at the University of San Francisco graduation rates for a seven-year period, you see that its Hispanic student graduation rates are above the national average and that, during that period, it has never had a gap larger than positive 2.6 points. Florida International University (FIU), an HSI with a student body nearly 66 percent Hispanic, has shown Hispanic student graduation rates higher than those of Whites for seven years in a row. Both FIU and the University of San Francisco are clear signs of what institutional commitment and effort can mean to student success rates.

Western Oregon University is an example of an institution that has made significant progress over time with its Hispanic student graduation rates. Only 8 percent of its student body is Hispanic. In 2002, the six-year graduation rate for Hispanic students was 36 percent. In 2008, more than half of its Hispanic students graduated over a six-year period, completely closing the White-to-Hispanic graduation gap. Again, commitment and effort paid off.

Among the colleges and universities with the largest White-to-Hispanic graduation gaps are institutions that vary widely in their missions, selectivity, size and diversity. Some have poor graduation rates across the board, for all students, while others have fairly good graduation rates for White students but poor rates for Hispanic or African-American students. The “big gap” schools, in particular, can benefit considerably by studying the practices of the “small gap” institutions.

There are many lessons to be learned from the top performers in academic success since their achievement is a function of their proactive practices and policies.

Take, for example, St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, a Hispanic-Serving Institution with a student body roughly one-third Hispanic. In a six-year period, 58 percent of Hispanic students earn a degree along with 56 percent of White students.

Sister Donna Jurick, the provost at St. Edward’s, says that the mission of the college, which is to serve a wide variety of students, drives its efforts toward equity in the admissions process. As a Catholic institution, striving for equity fits in with the church’s commitment to social justice. In admissions, she says, St. Edward’s works diligently to identify and admit ambitious, talented students whose secondary education may have been deficient. She says the institution sets high expectations for all students it admits and teaches them that “they have the right to the best education possible.” “We want to provide access to students who are highly motivated but didn’t have the same opportunities in high school. ... We see their potential.”

St. Edward’s identifies students who are struggling academically very early in the semester, with professors sending progress reports to students’ advisers after three weeks. Advisers reach out to students, encouraging them to use the college’s support services, such as tutoring and/or the writing center. The support services staff then report back to the faculty members about their students’ progress.

Loyola Marymount University, the most diverse Jesuit college in the nation, also has very small graduation gaps among groups of students. The college makes a concerted effort to recruit Hispanic students and uses leading indicators to track students, particularly Hispanics. It, too, has early warning systems that alert staff that students are struggling academically, and then, as at St. Edward’s, early intervention follows. Graduation rates are very good. About 20 percent of its undergraduate population is Latino. Almost 80 percent of these students graduate within six years. White students have similar success rates at Loyola Marymount University, and these rates are higher than the national average for any racial or ethnic student group.

Small private universities are not the only institutions achieving graduation success. The University of California-Riverside, a large public research university with a student body comprised of about one-fourth Latino students, also has small graduation-rate gaps. White students graduate at a rate of 62 percent, and Latinos have a 63 percent graduation rate within six years – again, a higher rate than the national average.

The success of these model institutions boils down to three fundamental factors: strong leadership at the top, focus on data-driven actions and interventions, and proactive retention efforts. College presidents and high-level administrators must create a campus culture in which everyone at the college takes responsibility for student success. Recruiting minority students must be a high priority in order to create a diverse student body. Finally, early intervention based on data that identifies students who are struggling has a big impact on getting students back on track.