Study Finds Colleges Can Share the Blame for the Racial Gap in Graduation Rates

A new study by researchers at New York University, Florida State University, and Southern Methodist University finds that more than 60 percent of the racial gap in college completion rates may be attributed to factors that occur before college. Therefore, in many cases, colleges and universities have their hands tied in efforts to reduce the racial gap.

Stella M. Flores, associate professor of higher education at New York University and the study’s lead author, said that “our findings demonstrate that these disparities can often be traced back to high school, suggesting that colleges and universities are not solely responsible for the racial gap in graduation rates.”

The researchers analyzed data from kindergarten through college completion for all public school students in one of the nation’s largest and most diverse states: Texas. They focused on one cohort of students who graduated from high school in 2002, entered a four-year institution that fall, and graduated college within six years by 2008. As expected, six-year college completion rates varied by race: 65.5 percent for White students and 43.6 percent for Black students.

Furthermore, the authors found that pre-college characteristics – a combination of individual, academic, and high school context factors – contributed upward of 61 percent of the total variance for Black students as compared with their White counterparts.

The study, “The Racial College Completion Gap: Evidence From Texas,” was published on the website of the Journal of Higher Education. Co-authors are Toby J. park of Florida State University and Dominique J. Baker of Southern Methodist University. The article may be accessed here.

Related Articles

2 COMMENTS

  1. This article continues to validate decades of retention and completion research regarding the failure across all institutions in preparing students for postsecondary success. The issue, however, is whether colleges and universities have the wherewithal to do what is necessary to help first generation and/or minority students succeed when admitted to their respective institutions. Access is one thing, but success depends on both student and institutional input working synergistically to achieve the desired outcomes.

  2. Unfortunately, this study supports the practice of limiting access to higher education to those the institutions believe have the best odds for completion. There are many significant mitigating factors that contribute to attrition. College climate studies show that students of color face unrelenting microaggressions at every educational level contributing to the erosion of confidence and inclusion. Combine with the appalling lack of faculty diversity and the inevitable anger that comes from understanding the history they were taught in school was all a lie. It is no surprised that higher education isn’t prepared to support these students.

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Report Established by State Senator Art Haywood Uncovers Racism in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education

"Ultimately, Pennsylvania's leaders and institutions should respect the dignity of all students," says Senator Art Haywood. "The work to ensure that dignity is intact for Pennsylvania's Students of Color continues with this report in hopes that one day the work will no longer be required."

Cynthia Gyamfi-Bannerman Appointed President of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine

"I appreciate the support I have received from my faculty and trainee colleagues here at UC San Diego along with colleagues from around the world," says Dr. Gyamfi-Bannerman. "Together we will work to advance our field and our reach, improving patient outcomes and eliminating health disparities."

Rate of Black Homeownership in America Remains Virtually Unchanged Since 2012

The National Association of Realtors has found that although homeownership rates in American are steadily increasing, the rate of Black homeownership has experienced significantly less growth than White, Asian, and Hispanic homeownership since 2012.

Safiya George Named President of the University of the Virgin Islands

“As a servant leader, I am confident I will be an effective President for the University of the Virgin Islands and will remain humble and grounded with a sincere desire to improve outcomes and the lives of students, faculty, staff, and the community," says Safiya George, who will assume the role of president of the University of the Virgin Islands this summer.

Featured Jobs