For Hispanics, Demographic Imperative Drives Educational Mandate
Like most Americans, the number of Hispanic workers who have college degrees has increased since 1973. But while Hispanics have made gains, they still continue to be significantly underrepresented on the nation’s college campuses, according to a new report by the Educational Testing Service and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.
And the study warns that unless the problem is addressed soon, the situation could only grow worse by 2015, the year Hispanics are projected to become the country’s largest minority group.
The overall proportion of 18-24 year old Hispanics far exceeds the proportion of 18-24 year-old Hispanics who are attending college, according to the report, “Education=Success.” In 1995, Hispanics represented 10.5 percent of the nation’s college undergraduates. That percentage is expected to jump to nearly 15 percent in 2015. Hispanics comprised 14.5 percent of the nation’s 18-24 year-olds in 1997. In 2015, they are projected to constitute 19 percent of 18-24 year olds.
“If the increase in the numbers of Hispanics is not accompanied by an increase in the proportion of Hispanics who go to college, the differences in college enrollments between 18-24 year old Hispanics and Whites wi ll actually increase from 430,000 to as many as 550,000 Hispanic students in 2015,” the report warns.
Moreover, a higher percentage of Hispanic students attend less selective colleges than do White and Asian American students. Thirty-six percent of Hispanic students enroll in the most selective colleges and universities, compared with 58 percent of Asian-Americans, 50 percent of White students, and 35 percent of African Americans. A disproportionate number of Hispanic students enroll in community colleges. Half of all Hispanics attend two-year programs, compared to a third of White students. But only 27 percent of Hispanics transfer from two-year to four-year schools.
And Hispanic students who are born in the United States or who immigrated early enough to begin school in this country don’t perform as well as White students. Many Hispanic students fall behind in elementary school and never catch up.
For example, the 1992 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAPE) results show that Hispanic 9-year-olds are roughly two years behind in math than White 9-year olds, a gap that remains at age 17.
The high school dropout rate also is higher for Hispanic students — 27 percent of Hispanic students drop out of high-school, compared to 7 percent of White students and roughly 13 percent of African American students.
The gap in education comes at a time when the fastest growing segment of the job market requires personnel with a college degree, says the report’s author Anthony Carnevale.
“Jobs today require a college education. Employers want higher-level cognitive and problem-solving skills,” says Carnevale, vice-president for public leadership at the Educational Testing Service.
Low-skilled jobs are disappearing from the economy and this is affecting Hispanic workers the most, he says. “Only six percent of Hispanics have higher-level office jobs.”
About half of all Hispanic adults have minimal skills, according to the report. In order to increase the number of Hispanics students going on the college, the report recommends educators and policy makers focus on increasing the amount of grants and scholarships available to Hispanic students; improving bilingual education; and reduce the use of standardized tests in admissions decisions.
The report also points out that economic status is a poor predictor of SAT performance for Hispanics. More than half of the Hispanic students who score above 1,000 on the SAT come from families with earnings below the national average.
“The future of the nation depends on how well we educate Hispanic students,” says Dr. Antonio Flores, president of HACU.
Free copies of the report “Education=Success” are available by writing to ETS Corporate Communications, MS 50-B, Rosedale Road, Princeton, NJ 08541, or by calling (609) 734-5050.
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