Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Study Examines Latino College Completion Rates in Every State

Latino students continue to struggle with lower college graduation rates when compared with other groups, according to a new study by the group Excelencia in Education that examines rates in all 50 states. The study also lists programs in each state that are working to close the gap.

The report highlights several points:

  • Nationally, in 2011 about 21 percent of Latino adults had associate’s degrees or higher, compared with 57 percent of Asians, 44 percent of whites and 30 percent of blacks.
  • In 2010, the gap in degree attainment between Latino and white students averaged about 14 percent. Illinois, which has a K-12 public school Hispanic enrollment of 21 percent, had one of the largest gaps at 15 percent.
  • In California and Texas, the two states with the nation’s largest K-12 Latino enrollments, graduation rates for Latinos are below the national average for the group.  In California, about 16 percent of Latino adults hold an associate degree or higher; in Texas, about 17 percent of Latino adults hold an associate’s or higher.
  • In 2010, there were nine states where more than 25 percent of Latino adults had degrees. In Florida, which has a K-12 public school Hispanic enrollment of 26 percent, about 31 percent of Latino adults have degrees. The other states have much smaller overall Hispanic populations.

The study calls attention to the fact that states’ future economies are dependent on the success of the growing Latino population.

“The state-level data on Latino college completion show that today’s investment, or lack thereof, in Latino academic preparation and degree attainment can have a compounding effect on state populations, economies, and communities in the near future,” said Deborah Santiago, the group’s co-founder.

The state-specific fact sheets are useful resources for reporters. I like that the state-specific breakdowns highlight programs that are working to improve the graduation rates. It’s worth considering a localized story in your community. This gives a good opportunity to discuss possible solutions and not just the problem.

For example, The Puente Project at the University of California works to increase the number of disadvantaged students who enroll in universities and then return to their home communities as mentors. The Achieving a College Education Program (ACE)  at Maricopa Community Colleges in Arizona targets helping students who don’t consider going to college possible. The Dual Enrollment Program at Eastern Connecticut State University works to recruit students in Hartford’s inner city schools to enroll in college and then transfer to the university.