Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Exploring Key Levers to Boost College Readiness Among Black and Latino Males

College readiness is becoming an increasingly important standard by which to measure school success and student achievement. While high school graduation and dropout prevention remain critical issues for educators, there is a substantial gap in outcomes between students who only earn a high school diploma and those who go on to obtain a college degree. For example, young adults with a bachelor’s degree earn almost twice as much—and are half as likely to be unemployed—as those with only a high school diploma.

Given the importance of higher education, it is decidedly problematic that students of color, especially Black and Latino males, are underrepresented among those with college degrees.ii Nationally, only 26 percent of Black males and 18 percent of Latino males attain an associate degree or higher, compared to 41 percent of students overall.

Not surprisingly, there are disparities in high school graduation rates as well. According to the Schott Foundation’s 50 State Report, of students scheduled to graduate in 2010, 52 percent of Black males and 60 percent of Latino males graduated from high school, compared to 78 percent of White non-Latino males.

For many decades, high school graduation rates in New York City lagged behind the nation, and low rates among Black and Latino students in particular were the focus of intense debate and criticism. Efforts to improve graduation rates and close gaps between subgroups of students have actually begun to pay off in recent years. High school graduation rates for Black and Latino males increased by 14 percentage points—from 43 and 45 percent, respectively, among those who entered high school in 2002, to 57 and 59 percent, respectively, among those who entered in 2006.

The needle on college readiness, however, has not moved to the same degree. Among students scheduled to graduate in 2010, only 9 percent of Black males and approximately 11 percent of Latino males graduated “college ready.”

Thus, while rising numbers of Black and Latino males are graduating from NYC high schools, very few of them are being prepared to attend and thrive in college.

Improving college readiness rates in NYC, especially for young men of color, will require a better understanding of the challenges they face—and of the levers that might serve to increase college readiness and enrollment. This report, Moving the Needle, speaks to both issues by examining the trajectory of Black and Latino males on their path to college and zeroing in on points along that path where schools might effectively intervene. The report describes college-related outcomes and other indicators that help predict college readiness for Black and Latino male students over time, and discusses key contextual factors that underlie these educational outcomes. It then uses this research to inform the Expanded Success Initiative (ESI), an ongoing citywide effort to improve college and career readiness for young men of color, which the Research Alliance is evaluating.

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