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Study Shows Black, Hispanic College Graduation Rates Still Trailing in California

Study Shows Black, Hispanic College Graduation Rates Still Trailing in California

A recent study found a significant gap in college graduation rates between Blacks and Hispanics born in California versus Whites and Asian Americans.

The study, released recently by the Public Policy Institute of California, found that only 13 percent of Hispanics and 15 percent of Blacks had earned a bachelor’s degree. That compared with rates of 31 percent for Whites and 62 percent for Asian Americans, based on 2000 Census data.

The study found that 11 percent of American Indians earn bachelor’s degrees, the lowest rate of any group.

“A college education is one of the most important indicators of lifelong economic success,” study author and PPIC program director Deborah Reed said in a news release announcing the results. “These wide disparities in college completion paint an uneven picture of the prospects for young people from different racial and ethnic groups in California.”

The report found that the percentage of California-born young adults earning bachelor’s degrees increased in the ’90s. Asian American graduation rates increased from 53 percent to 62 percent while Whites went up from 23 percent to 31 percent. But the increase was lower for Blacks, 11 percent to 15 percent, and Hispanics, 10 percent to 13 percent.

Reed found that gaps exist well before the university level. Only 6.2 percent of Black high-school seniors and 6.5 percent of Hispanic seniors qualified for admission to the University of California in 2002-03, compared to 16.2 percent of Whites and 31.4 percent of Asian Americans.

Hispanics make up one-third of the state’s high-school graduates, but only 12 percent of UC graduates, while Blacks account for 7 percent of high-school graduates but 3 percent of UC graduates.
Reed found a number of factors behind the achievement gaps.

– Black and Hispanic students were less likely to live with both parents.

– Their mothers were less likely to have graduated from high school and their families were more likely to be poor.

– Black and Hispanic children were more likely to attend bad schools.

State officials have tried to offset those disadvantages with programs such as school equalization funding and college prep programs. But the gap in graduation rates continues.

“We probably have to look beyond education policy to solve these gaps,” Reed says. “We don’t think of it as education policy, but if we could reduce the concentration of low-income students in low-performing schools, it would be a move toward more equity.”

Policies that could help include those that provide basic support to families, such as food stamps, health care and housing subsidies, she said.

“If parents can achieve higher levels of education,” she says, “they can earn more and provide more in-home educational support.”

Associated Press

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