• August 28, 2015

Reports Highlight Disparities in Graduation Rates Among White and Minority Students

A pair of reports released on Monday by the Education Trust seek to reveal how disparate graduation rates are among white, black, and Hispanic students at hundreds of public and private universities, and call attention to individual institutions where the gaps are particularly large or small.

Fifty-seven percent of all students who enroll in four-year, nonprofit colleges earn diplomas within six years, but the graduation rates for different groups of students vary vastly. On average, 60 percent of white students who start college have earned bachelor's degrees six years later. But only 49 percent of Hispanic students and 40 percent of black students do.

The two reports, which deal separately with Hispanic and black students as compared to their white peers, seek to look beneath the averages, highlighting individual colleges that are doing well and also focusing on those that are missing the mark on graduation equity. The findings are based on several years of data from College Results Online, a Web-based tool developed by the Education Trust that allows comparisons of college graduation rates by race, ethnicity, and gender for four-year institutions across the country.

Graduation rates at individual colleges tell a range of stories, said Kati Haycock, president of the Education Trust, a nonprofit organization that focuses on closing the educational opportunity and achievement gaps among all students from pre-kindergarten through college. Some institutions have achieved "smashing success," she said, while others have records of "shocking irresponsibility."

The lesson of these stories, she said, is that "what colleges do for students of color powerfully impacts the futures of these young people and that of our nation."

Among the colleges with a large gap in graduation rates is Wayne State University, where fewer than one in 10 black students graduate within six years. For white students, the rate is 43.5 percent, more than four times higher.

At another, the City University of New York's Brooklyn College, the success rate for Hispanic students is 34 percent, compared with a 53-percent graduation rate for white students.

Despite the troubling figures, the reports also found some public and private colleges where the graduation rate for minority students equals, or even exceeds, the one for white students. The colleges that landed on the "small gaps" list have shown a strong commitment to student success by adopting strategies that promote equity and high academic achievement, the reports found.

Among the colleges on the "small gaps" lists are the University of California at Riverside, Florida International University, and Old Dominion University, in Virginia.

With a focus on data, strong leadership, and retention efforts at each of its colleges, the University of California at Riverside can boast 63-percent and 67-percent graduation rates for Hispanic and black students, respectively. The graduation rate for white students at the university is 62 percent. About two-thirds of all students at Riverside graduate within six years.

In 2008, 56 percent of black students at Old Dominion graduated within six years or less, exceeding the national average. Completion rates among Hispanic students at Florida International University have outpaced those among white students in each of the past seven years.

The reports ("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") are available on the Education Trust's Web site.


1. 12052592 - August 09, 2010 at 04:30 pm

This article conveniently leaves out the graduation rates of Asian-American students. Leaving out Asian-American graduation rates (who are considered "people of color") leaves the impression that white racism is responsible for low rates of hispanic and black graduation rates.

2. civilprof - August 09, 2010 at 04:36 pm

No surprise. Our minorities students, on average, have significantly weaker credentials upon entry into college. Just how much denial is out there about this? We push weak minority students into college and they fail at a higher rate. Seems about right to me.

3. jack_433 - August 09, 2010 at 04:41 pm

This study does not appear to be complete. In order to draw any statistical conclusion from a study like this one, the researcher must control for laziness, victim mentality, and entitlement mentality. Dummy variables for the laziness index, the victim mentality index, and the entitlement mentality index will reveal whether or not there is a statistically conclusive difference between different colors of students, along with the significance of being lazy or having a victim or entitlement mentality. T-statistics will reveal the significance of the coefficients on each of the dummy variables.

Also, since colors are not strictly black and white, there are variations, a gradiation of color should be used as the primary explanatory variable. A number system for the pigment may be a reasonable proxy, perhaps 1 to 10, but 1 to 100 will provide a refined measure for the significance of the pigment variable.

4. 11167997 - August 09, 2010 at 04:43 pm

The best I can tell from reading Ed Trust's report is that these graduation rates are only for those who earn their diplomas from the same institution in which they started. Since NCES longitudinal studies show that nearly 20% of those who start in a 4-year college AND earn a bachelor's degree earn it from a different institution (surprise, anyone?), the analysis doesn't really help us zero in on the problem. And it might be more than helpful, too, to divide the population by age at entry. The lock-step student right out of high school behaves very differently, no matter what their ethnic background, than the adult first-timer, entering, let us say, at age 24. I would put good money on the table that some of the problems in minority graduation rates are more on one side of the age dividing line than the other.

5. uwg1234 - August 09, 2010 at 05:25 pm

The scary thing is how many racist faculty there are teaching all of our students.

6. henr1055 - August 09, 2010 at 05:30 pm

Asian students count too. How about an anova groups, groups by gender and groups by gender by first generation college students - or not. Lets get some real answers here.

There is data on students that leave collegem but there is no central data base to see if students went on to another institution.

If you want real answers you need to access these kinds of data.


7. robynsc - August 09, 2010 at 05:47 pm

although I am African American, I have to ask: why must institutions "reach out" to minorities? shouldn't the inherent value of the college education be enough? There are many instances in life where qualifications matter. There are tests for firefighters, police officers, military personnel, etc. If you fail the exam you don't get the job. There's no followup, remedial classes. But if you work hard and fulfill the qualifications, you get the job. students succeed or fail for a myriad of reasons, no matter their skin color.

8. honore - August 09, 2010 at 07:27 pm

Let me see if I understand...we admit students whose K-12 background was at best "deficient", "lacking in academic rigor", "pass them for social/cultural reasons from grade to grade" and then we write reports which cite the obvious and then write "articles" about the even more obvious...oh, now I get it.

P.S. Jennifer, try to remember that "hispanic" has not been and NEVER will be a "race", no matter how many ill-informed articles are written supporting this ignorance.

9. d_and_der - August 09, 2010 at 10:29 pm

robynsc. Good comment. "why must institutions "reach out" to minorities [anyone]?" If institutions would stop admitting unqualified students and stop preaching that everyone must have a college degree, this problem would end. If the student has the necessary scores to be admitted, but fails to perform because of laziness, et. al. I say kick them out.
What do you think will happen after the three month probationary period of employment. The employer will kick out the lazy ones. Enron fired the lowest performing 50% of its workforce every year.
Parents should teach their children about performance and responsibility from the begining.

10. english_ivy - August 09, 2010 at 10:52 pm

Equality of education between the burbs and the inner-city, between the privileged districts and those less so in the country and the city begins at the K-12 levels and it begins with funding not test scores. Not with teachers held accountable to ridiculous standardized test scores by admins like Michelle Rhee who foolishly apply market or business principles they don't really understand, but teachers who are empowered to teach and set up for success.
Equality of success does not begin in college, that policy actually reinforces the racial, ethnic, and other social stereotypes by producing potentially, or occasionally, incompetent "affirmative" graduates. Equality of success begins at preschool, kindergarten, elementary school, junior high, and high school, not all the sudden at 18-19 at the freshmen of college level.
It begins with investment in the cities.
It begins with fostering a culture of intellectuality in all places in this country.
Doing all of these things for all our people.

But, like all aristocracies and privileged classes the suburban "class" seeks to construct a narrative that simultaneously reproduces their own special merit and undermines the liberal ideals of the equal merit of others. That they themselves support such ideals only serves to inoculate them from accusations of the very agenda that there policy really creates.
It is sort of a collective subconscious bigotry.

11. angelvamp - August 10, 2010 at 04:41 am

I agree with henr1055. Asians were cited in the Education Trust's research, yet failed to even be mentioned in the Chronicle article. Although they are not as large of a group as their African-American, Hispanic, or White counterparts, they are significant enough to at least mention in the article. In addition, with all of the current mixing of races, will students technically end up in two or more racial groups, thereby skewing outcomes? Will students just end up pay allegiance to the ethnicity group that will give them the most "governmental assistance" (a.k.a. tuition money) to pursue their degrees? These are questions worth asking! Shouldn't students who actually WANT to graduate be supported versus those who have a particular racial profile, hair color or shoe size?

12. 22228715 - August 10, 2010 at 08:16 am

This is not really a new area of research... I think, though, that our society is becoming increasingly complex, such that race alone is not a logical way to measure people and impact. To compare any group from one race to any group of another race might have made sense in a past era, but diversity within racial groups has grown such that it seems old-fashioned to just compare on race. I'm not saying that there is no racism... but that in the 21st century there needs to be other factors included, or readers will always be sitting around trying to explain it with wild and sometimes offensive guesses.

13. goxewu - August 10, 2010 at 08:55 am

Re #10:

"I say kick them out...What do you think will happen after the three month probationary period of employment. The employer will kick out the lazy ones. Enron fired the lowest performing 50% of its workforce every year."

And what happened to lean 'n' mean Enron? And if d_and_der has some Enron stock, how's it doing? Whatever happened to that disciplinarian taskmaster, Ken Lay, anyway?

14. lee77 - August 10, 2010 at 09:53 am

RE #10 - I think you meant the lowest performing 5% were terminated each year? GE and others did that, but they wouldn't have lasted as long as they did at 50% turnover in their management...

RE: research - honore (#8) said it well. Just another example of pushing people into college that would be better served by other programs.

15. johnsonjr - August 10, 2010 at 10:01 am

Thank you english_ivy for a well thought out response. I am often saddened to read the responses on the chronicle often wondering who the audience is. I thought this was an audience of educated people, but often I see ignorant and/or misinformed responses that one might find on YouTube. Is there any wonder why we see an inequity in education in America? We are in extreme denial. Parents can only teach what they know, and if the rest of society is not up for the societal responsibility to ensure that access to quality education for Americans begin in pre-k/elementary as English_ivy pointed out, we are doomed.

16. lyndahar - August 10, 2010 at 11:20 am

Isn't the point of the article the comparison among campuses? The support systems at those institutions with a lower disparity between majority and minority students don't just target minority students. These are campuses with a commitment to good teaching and student success. There are well-established ways to increase retention and graduation rates without watering down the curriculum. George Kuh's work is a good resource on improving student success.

17. birdseyeview - August 10, 2010 at 11:39 am

I'd like to post a comment here asking if the study controlled for socioeconomic status of students identified as belonging to the groups compared across institutions. But I'd feel dirty and complicit if I participated in a forum hosting the sorts of vicious, racist comments present on this comment list.

18. johnfarley - August 10, 2010 at 12:05 pm

The attitudes behind comments 1, 2, and 3 go a long way toward explaining why many students of color do not find predominantly white campuses to be very welcoming places.

19. dank48 - August 10, 2010 at 01:11 pm

I'd be interested to see a comparison, mutatis mutandis, of graduation and other success milestones, for persons of color, white included, and for persons with disabilities.

20. sadirasonam - August 10, 2010 at 04:15 pm

Why is this only a three-way reporting? What happen to Asian Americans? Are they invisible? In fact, reporting their graduation rates without looking at the Asian American ethnic sub-groups would only lead to further support of the myth that all "Asian Americans" are successful, and therefore need not be reported here to point out only the "obvious." What's not obvious is that there are many ethnic subgroups in the Asian American community, such as the Pacific Islanders, the Vietnamese Americans, and certain Southeast Asians like the Hmongs and Cambodians,who are not graduating from even high school, not to mention college. Are there any outreach to get those Asian American minorities into college, and help them graduate? No one seems to be paying attention to these "silent" minorities among the Asian Americans.

21. honore - August 10, 2010 at 04:55 pm

@#1...Yup you went there...from my own professional experience, Asian/Asian-American students continue to be the straw that breaks the victimhood camel's back EVERY time on EVERY campus. H/E continues to close its eyes to the fact that for the most part Asian/Asian-American students EXCEL again and again regardless of academic regimen, campus, institutional status (SLAC, R-1...) and the one factor that appears consistently in the demographic profile of A/A-As is STABLE and very supportive familial unit and the HIGH VALUE they place on education from Kindergarten. This FACT, does not support the very tired and inappropriate "i be's a failure 'cause i be's a minority" model of low achievement and scarce persistence. At 1 Ivy, A/A-As would go into the "minority" office to have their names removed from the mailing roster because all the insulting mailings they received addressing them as in need of "remedial", "catch-up", and "special support programs" BECAUSE they were an ethnic minorities.

d_and_der...the mistake you make is assuming that there is anything resembling a "parent" in the background of the student

goxewu...hmmmmm, I am not sure I would "employ" (every pun intended) Enron's policies on anything other than how to devastate the lives of 10s of thousands of people financially, emotionally, personally and even physically AND contribute to the colossal devastation of a national economy...other than that your Enron analogy was flawless.

birdseyeview...how typically precious. I suggest you return to your perch and continue to wait for the inevitable to drop on your head while you continue to cast politically-correct fairy dust on the mess below. BUT, your point about SES, while certainly one that I believe is CRUCIAL to consider, is a bit too NON-PC for these puddle-deep "studies" to: a)even consider inquiring about and b)even attempt to quantify in a volatile economy where SES can change from 1 paycheck to the next.

johnfarley...and it comments like yours that keep the proverbial dog chasing its tail, while we continue to ask..."but where is he going? Does anyone know?" The dog is going nowhere and at this point has probably died a couple of deaths on several campuses. We have known it for decades, but at least today we don't have to call the dog catcher to remove him or the Merry Maids to clean up after him 'cause afterall you have a marathon to prepare for, a kayak to wax and don't have the time to really deal with the dog or REAL institutional problems that are made worse by "admissions" policies that are based on feel-good "social justice" policies that conveniently ignore the basic question to be asked..."is this student VIABLE in THIS academic context?" Typically, these policies are focused on getting the student to campus with little or no thought paid to whether s/he will be there after 1 semester. I saw this CONSISTENTLY at every institution i worked at in the US, but NEVER when I was overseas. Apparently devasting a young person's life for a semester or 2 was a small price to pay for these mindless drones more focused on employing the very ill-advised "Noah's Ark" model of admissions policy-making. And do we all remember what happened to the Ark?

johnsonjr...you nailed it perfectly..."DENIAL" is typically one of the early stages of grief, but since we have yet to announce the obvious...that our H/E system has died and yet its pallbearers continue to fail its vast audiences, we will continue to order more pom-poms for Homecoming but never ask how many more Homecomings there will be when rates of non-persistence to graduation are so abysmal and growing every year.

dank48...no comment

22. jrerickson - August 10, 2010 at 08:27 pm

I have no specific comments on the article, it speaks for itself. I do find it interesting, however that there is much discussion about overachieving students of Asian ancestry. If you want to add them to the mix, let's not forget about the other students of Asian ancestry who DO NOT fit the stereotype of the "model minority". As I told my son the other day when he asked me , are Asians all smart,...some kids at camp said that". My response to him was, "anyone who works hard can be "smart", whatever background, ethnicity, SES, etc. BUT, and this is a huge caveat, there usually has to be a support network involved, whether it's parents, grandparents, foster parents, financial resources, communities, churches, society, and so forth. Every student does not have such a network, and yet some achieve anyway. Blaming a child for their parents shortcomings is an exercise in bigotry. But, frankly, these types of sour, crass, ignorant and self-revealing rants by supposed educators makes me want to cry, and if my son had any one of you sorry asses (and you know who you are) as a teacher, professor, advisor,....you would be extremely sorry to meet me. In my world, you would be expected to work as hard as my son does in his studies. I suggest you bitter excuses for educators find a new profession in which there is no contact with real people, perhaps a virtual world, b/c you are the ones who keep our educational systems broken beyond repair. As for laziness, I consider anyone "lazy" who expects to always stay in their comfort zone and never try to reach those who need to be reached, whatever color their skin may be. So, perhaps you are the "lazy ones". Anyone reading these comments would not want many of you as co-workers or even neighbors. Put the world out of some of its misery and find a new gig!!!

23. professor44 - August 10, 2010 at 10:40 pm

I cannot believe the number of racist comments made after reading this article. As a sociology professor, I have failed more than a few white students who were lazy, entitled, and unmotivated as well. To assert that Blacks and Hispanics fail at a greater than whites simply due to being lazy or unintelligent compared with whites is to ignore the history of institutionalized racism that is still pervasive in this country.You racist academics who commented on this story are proof of such. Since a significant number of minorities (Black and Hispanic) live in poverty and in inner-city neighborhoods where there is substandard systems of public education, it is no surprise that many of these students are ill prepared for college. Victim mentality??? Really?! Clearly when you have not been the victim of racism it is easy to ignore or discount the experiences of those who have. If reincarnation does exist, my prayer would be that each of you are born Black and enslaved. Welcome to the "newest form of racism" - the denial of racial inequality!

24. trendisnotdestiny - August 10, 2010 at 11:55 pm

Whether it is graduation rates, financial predation rates, incarcerations or wealth-income-assets data, there is without question such monumental disparity that for most it is much easier to:

1) explain it away as an intellectual exercise
2) deny its existence as a means of self justification
3) blame causes & effects of disparities on minorities themselves
4) avoid the subject as an antispetic intellectual
5) convolute the discussion with anecdotal indifference
6) pursue important dialogues but stop there

This thread is frustrating because it should occur in stages where the sub-topics should include:

A) Acknowledgement of disparities with graduation rates
B) Breadth of disparities in other fields that coincide
C) Historical contexts for disparities (institutional analysis)
D) Barriers to over-coming these disparities (interest/resistance)
E) Tactics for dealing with resistance (individ/community/Inst)
F) A longterm commitment to not replicating old mistakes

The best way to do this would be use Howard Zinn's book as an example. However, developing on-going history that critically challenges disparities between people of color and the dominant culture must include (as bell hooks contends) dealing with the intersectionalities of race, gender, and SES through studying economics, politics and history as an integrated body of connection....

25. honore - August 11, 2010 at 09:01 am

Oh dear...of course the predictable shouts of "racism" & "racist" were only a few posts away and conveniently AFTER several insightful & informed posts from professionals who ACTUALLY have worked with, observed and analyzed the reasons for the dismal and disparate graduation rates between "majority" vs. "minority" populations AND ACTUALLY do have very qualified observations to make. My, my...what a NON-surprise. Nothing unexpected here.

Embarrassingly, the past and current models of "retention" STILL continue to fail ALL students but that inconvenient fact is STILL not enough to convince the "it's racism", "you're a racist" campus parrots to step off their well-soiled, ever-apologist perches.

At home, they still find themselves unable to step away from watering their orchids long enough to actually look at the faces of DEVASTATED students (and their parents) who have been dismissed after a semester or 2 of academic failure as a result of being “specially admitted” into academic regimens that completely ignored the PREVIOUS 18 years of THEIR lives, 'cause after all we'll just wish all that "ugly" stuff away with a workshop on "racism" or an Orientation Day dish-to-pass picnic with the president/chancellor who "can only stay for 1 or 2 photos", or a fire-side chat with the 19 year old upper-SES campus cheerleader just back from her tanning appointment and Pilates power work-out.

NEWSFLASH...In a historically and racially polarized AND deliberately racially unequal society from which many have benefited and MANY have not, it is WAY too easy to pin the tail on the tattered, mile-high "racist" donkey billboard.

But at the end of the proverbial day, the predictable "its racism", "you're a racist" parrots will continue to water their orchids and tell their children fairy tales about how unjust America is, but add, "now hurry up, we don't want to miss our flights to Bali".

It's WAY-past time to be real and HONEST and acknowledge that as a society we continue to fail the least prepared who encounter our H/E institutions and who simply cannot survive BECAUSE they were failed in the previous 2 decades of their lives by politicians, "leaders" and "educators" who continued to tell them "yes, you can" ("but don't call me when you can't"), cause it's all about the "racism" and those darn "racists".

As someone whose THIRD language is English (of SEVERAL), I can tell you that the one mitigating factor that kept me and MANY others like me on the track to the goals that I have achieved was my family unit.

It WAS NOT any special admissions, special tutorials, special grading scheme, special classes or special support services or treatment from patronizing administrators who just loved to pat “those minorities” on the head and THEN pat THEMSELVES on the back for something they had NO part in making happen.

So get over your FAKE indignation, FAKE self-righteousness and over-inflated self-importance and be sure to pack your dental floss.

"Is that our plane, Brad?"

26. jack_433 - August 11, 2010 at 05:04 pm

#23: Professor44, it appears that you are the racist. My comment dealt with executing a proper research study. The dummy variables have nothing to do with race, but you chose to make them racist and jump to the conclusion that laziness, victim mentality, and entirlement mentality are the domain of a single group of people. Only by controlling for common factors that may mask the true information in the data can one draw a valid conclusion. Even if you aren't a racist, are you sure a lousy researcher.

27. _perplexed_ - August 16, 2010 at 03:32 pm

After reading jack_433's post #3 and his post #26 above, it's pretty clear who deserves the "lousy researcher" label.

28. rmill026 - August 29, 2010 at 02:47 pm

Wow! This is all pretty interesting. Just by performing this research is buying in to a racial factor; not that I don't believe in racial factors. I say stop the researching and just let the students fail. It's up to the student to succeed and if they don't, it is their fault. Whoever performed this case study just wasted a great deal of their time proving nothing. I will say this: I'm not Asian, but it is apparent that Asians ARE on top of the evolutionary food chain. That IS why they were not included in this report. For the anti-racial cool-aid drinkers: get off of your equality high-horse and just face the fact that some races are better suited for SOME THINGS than others. Life isn't fair and there is always someone better than you! You don't send in a Tiger to catch a mouse and you certainly don't send in a Siamese cat to down an antelope. Neither animal is better than the other one but they are certainly suited for different environments...

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