USA/ 25 July 2020/ Source/ https://newsakmi.com/
By Steve Johnson
Black students have less access to the most selective public colleges in the United States than they did 20 years ago, according to a report released on Tuesday by the Education Trust. The report stresses colleges will have to make major changes to meet growing calls for more inclusive campuses.
The Education Trust, a nonprofit research organization, assigned a letter grade to each of 101 public colleges, depending on what share of their students were Black or Latino in 2017, compared with the percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds from those demographic groups in each college’s state. A college that achieved diversity relative to its state population received an A. Poorly performing colleges — spoiler alert: most of them — received an F.
Colleges were thus rewarded in this measure for being in a homogenous state. For example, the University of Idaho received an A because 1.3 percent of its enrollment was Black in a state where 1.4 percent of college-age residents are Black. The University of Montana did even better in this regard: Just under 1 percent of its students were Black, while the state’s Black college-age population was only 0.8 percent. But those student bodies are hardly diverse.
What’s more instructive, in the report, is that most colleges failed. About half of colleges received passing grades for Latino-student representation, while less than a quarter did for Black-student representation. This is important because one way public colleges measure equity is by achieving an enrollment that mirrors the diversity of their state. By that standard, the report underscores that colleges have a steep climb ahead to meet the diversity and equity demands that they’ve faced for years and that have intensified in recent months.
“It is past time for public-college presidents to take substantive anti-racist action that matches their soaring anti-racist rhetoric,” said Andrew Howard Nichols, senior director of research and data analytics at the Education Trust and the report’s author, in a written statement.
Here are five takeaways from the report:
1. Since 2000, the percentage of Black students has dropped at nearly 60 percent of the 101 institutions. Latino students have fared better. All of the selective public institutions have seen increases in their percentage of Latino students since 2000. Still, the gains at 65 percent of the colleges were less than the growth in their respective states’ Latino populations.
2. Colleges in states with large Black populations were the least accessible. More than half of the United States’ Black population is in 14 Southern states, and nearly all of the 32 colleges in that region received failing grades. “The three institutions without failing grades,” the report states, “were in Kentucky and West Virginia, which are the two Southern states with the lowest share of Black residents.”
3. Increasing access for Black and Latino students is a matter of will, the report argues, as the institutions studied have large endowments and the resources to improve access. The report offers 10 steps campus leaders and policy makers can take to improve student diversity. They include: Increase access to high-quality guidance counselors, use race more prominently in admissions decisions, increase aid to Black and Latino students, and reduce the role of standardized testing.
4. State demographics matter. The report notes that the University of California at Berkeley’s 4.3-percentage-point increase in Latino undergraduates since 2000 — from 10.4 percent to 14.8 percent of overall enrollment, in rounded figures — looks good until you consider that the Latino population in California increased at more than three times that rate.
5. Though many institutions earned high grades in the report because their states lacked diversity, a handful of institutions earned A grades and were in states with relatively robust minority populations. For example, about 16 percent of New York’s college-age population is Black while about 17 percent of students at the State University of New York’s University at Albany are Black. Leaders credit the university’s success to aggressive recruiting, dedicating resources to mentoring first-generation and underrepresented students, and creating support programs to make students feel welcome.
Students who have good experiences at the university spread the word to their communities, said Michael N. Christakis, Albany’s vice president for student affairs. “Success breeds success,” he said.