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Education Trust Reports Divulge Minority College-graduation Rate Gaps

The Education Trust, a Washington-based education advocacy organization, released two reports Monday highlighting institutions that have highest college success rates for African-American and Latino students in comparison to White students. The reports also highlight the schools that have the largest graduation rate gaps between underrepresented minorities and Whites.

The reports, titled “Big Gaps, Small Gaps: Some Colleges and Universities Do Better Than Others in Graduating African-American Students” and “Big Gaps, Small Gaps: Some Colleges and Universities Do Better Than Others in Graduating Hispanic Students,” draw upon national college graduation averages and explore disaggregated six-year graduation rates at hundreds of U.S. public and private institutions.

With 57 percent of all students completing bachelor degrees within six years, the graduation rates for different groups of students vary significantly. Nationally, 60 percent of Whites but only 49 percent of Latinos and 40 percent of African-Americans who start college earn bachelor degrees six years later, according to the data.

“These (national) averages mask important differences between institutions,” said Kati Haycock, president of The Education Trust, in a statement. 

“Graduation rates at individual institutions tell a range of stories — some of smashing success — which should be studied deeply and replicated widely,” she said. “Unfortunately, there are others of shocking irresponsibility. The lesson of all of these stories is: What colleges do for students of color powerfully impacts the futures of these young people and that of our nation.”

Among the findings were that at nearly two-thirds of the colleges and universities in the study, fewer than half the African-American students emerge with a degree after six years. Among Latino students, more than 60 percent of the institutions they attend graduate fewer than half their Latino students in six years.

“We did uncover some large gaps in student success rates and low graduation rates for students of color. But it would be wrong to assume that these gaps are inevitable or immutable,” said Mamie Lynch, higher education research and policy analyst at The Education Trust and coauthor of the report, said in a statement. “For many of the ‘big gap’ schools, we can point to an institution working with a similar student body that graduates students of color at rates similar to those of White students.”

Among states reporting college success for Blacks and Latinos, Florida’s public universities ranked near the top in graduation rates, according to the reports.

Florida ranked 5th with a 50.9 percent graduation rate for Black students and 6th with a 57.1 percent rate for Hispanics.

The 11 Florida state universities posted a 59.9 percent graduation rate for all students to rank 10th in the nation.

State University System Chancellor Frank Brogan said he’s proud of the high rankings for minority students and said the state is taking steps to sustain and improve that performance, according to the Associated Press. 

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