New Data Shows a Wide Racial Disparity in the GPAs of College Graduates

New data from the U.S. Department of Education shows a wide racial disparity in the grade point averages of bachelor’s degree recipients. The data shows grades for students who earned their degrees during the 2007-08 academic year.

Some 75 percent of all White bachelor degree recipients had a grade point average of 3.0 or higher. For Blacks, 55.3 percent of all graduates had a grade point average of 3.0 or higher. Whites were more than twice as likely as Blacks to graduate with grade point averages better than 3.5. Two out of every five White graduates but less than one in five Black graduates achieved a GPA greater than 3.5.

Blacks were nearly three times as likely as Whites to graduate with a GPA of less than 2.5. Some 14.5 percent of Black graduates and 5.5 percent of White graduates had a GPA of less than 2.5.


Comments (6)

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  1. Daniel says:

    How about a link to the data? Let’s see about the other races.

  2. claude says:

    One factor that is rarely discussed in academe is the fact that Blacks – not uncommonly – are harshly graded. A single instance of receiving an unfair grade in a course or exam can be devastating to any student; if it happens again and again, the domino effect is almost inevitable. Depression and attenuating motivation take their tolls.

    If a Black student makes a lot of noise about a problematic grade – especially when the offending faculty member is racist (or perceived to be), that student can be “tagged” as troublesome, and other faculty may be inclined to grade that student harshly as well. I think that studies looking into this problem could be quite enlightening. There are many anecdotes articulated by some of the most highly accomplished Black scholars about instances of racist grading and evaluation that they experienced as students.

    If one then stops to imagine what may happen to Black students who are “just” adequate or decent, the picture is not too encouraging. Ironically, some Caucasians seem to be under the impression that there is a liberal conspiratorial faction of Whites that deliberately inflates grades of Black students. That paranoid group believe so deeply in white supremacy that they simply cannot believe Blacks are capable of superior performance. This vocal minority (?) constitutes the firewall against affirmative action; the assumption is that any Black student with high grades – especially from a majority-White institution – is somehow the beneficiary of the liberal-grading constituency; that idea provides a foundation or rationale for continued discrimination against Blacks, with claims that, “They aren’t qualified anyway.” Like much in America, it’s a vicious circle.

    • Tom says:

      Claude I agree with you 100 %. Cycle. When it comes to GPA it depends on your major as well …. Computer science classes are harder … so expect lower GPA’s in that field… Once again…. Blacks are less likely to go to private competitive high schools that prepare them for College and higher GPAs…. Blacks do not make monies in this country because they are denied the opportunity for high paying jobs…. simple…. I have top degrees from top schools, Great GPAs but I am struggling…. Job interviews are held by caucasians all the time who are always surprised to see someone like me…. ask me about my grades etc… The only advice I have for each minority parent is to motivate their kids to be the best of the best once they are in college. Parental guidance is very important… The issue with blacks in this country once again boils down to ECONOMICS….It is sad ….

  3. CommonSenseRules says:

    Claude,
    While I understand your point, classroom grading is the least of the issues with majority white institutions because neither faculty nor Deans — not to mention legal counsel– want students in their faces with charges of racism, and Presidents want any hint of such claims to disappear.
    Rather than allowing unhelpful claims of “harsh grading” and “racist assumptions of inferiority” to define the issue, how about looking at a composite of factors such as: HBCU GPAs versus those from majority white institutions; what Black students began with(i.e. SAT scores), and what they ended with (i.e. GRE scores)? The standardized test harangue is less than useless; Black graduates are competing in a standardized world. Playing fields will never be leveled; as they never were for all Caucasians in this country, we all need to get beyond that unhelpful social fiction. Simplified excuse-making will not change the data.
    Remember: the Black electorate could not have sent Barack Obama back to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, DC in 2008 or 2012.

  4. lynn says:

    As a college student I have maintained a GPA of 3.7 or better. A have worked as a mentor to college freshmen and sometimes they do not set high enough goals. I was told by students, in several orientation sessions; that a Bachelor’s degree does not have a grade on it and therefore a passing grade of “C” is an adequate goal. My reply is, “I do not want a doctor who was a “C” student”

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