National Institute on Aging

Study Finds That Racial Gap in College Completion Rates Is Attributable to Pre-College Factors

graduation_cap_and_diploma-2091A study by researchers at Florida State University and Vanderbilt University finds that more than 60 percent of the racial gap in college completion rates can be explained by factors such as socioeconomic status and poorer preparation for college among Blacks and other minorities. The research was based upon a comprehensive dataset from Texas and select national datasets.

The results found that college graduation rates are largely determined by what happened before college — such as family resources, academic preparation and community context — and that the key non-college factors may well differ for communities of color.

Toby Park, an assistant professor of educational leadership and policy studies at Florida State University and a co-author of the study, stated that “college completion is not just a postsecondary story as upwards of 61 percent of the racial college completion gap can be explained by pre-college characteristics. That’s not to say that postsecondary education is off the hook when it comes to accountability, but rather to suggest that the college completion story is more complicated and nuanced than could be captured by simply comparing graduation rates amongst colleges.”

Comments (5)

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  1. Being There says:

    Sadly, this 2014 “results” sounds like this is the first time ever these results were also researched in the 1960/s, 1970’s and in many more decades prior to the era of 2010/
    My college admissions career began in 1966.Over the next thirty years lots of research came to similar conclusions. Most colleges still found ways to recruit, enroll and graduate insignificant numbers of African-Americans. In my Southern city there are so few Black teachers that an African-American student has one chance out of ten of ever having a Black teacher before grading high school. Now it seems like we are suggesting, “Let’s start from here and make things better without knowing how many, many times we have played this game in the past.

    • Ed says:

      As far as teaching goes, teachers have to pass certification exams that vary by state. Unfortunately there is a significant gap between the passing rates of whites & blacks.

  2. caribbean queen says:

    yes, i agree with the comment above. these ‘findings’ are disingenuous. could be that when the initial research was conducted by black and other scholars of color it went ignored, but now the realities are harder to push aside in the so-called age of obama.

    • fhsmct says:

      That and the drop in enrollment due to the “new” federal financial aid qualification criteria, making it even harder for students from lower economic backgounds to be able to fund their education(s) . . .

      • Ed says:

        Yes that sounds about right. Colleges are trying to avoid being held responsible for graduation rates. They just want the enrollment money. Now they’re right the gaps manifest themselves before college but you can’t have it both ways. If they aren’t college material don’t admit them.

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