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If America is to restore its status as first-in-the-world in degree attainment, colleges need to do more to ensure that all of their students — especially African-American and Hispanic students — graduate from college. At first glance, the trends look discouraging: Graduation rates for African-American students in our study have largely remained stagnant from 2004 to 2010, and rates for our Hispanic students have only modestly increased.
However, these trends are not inevitable. Beneath the averages, we find that many schools have increased success and closed graduation-rate gaps for underrepresented students. The charts presented below can help colleges gauge their progress toward producing more degrees. Institutions can benchmark their progress in two ways: Some can focus on making absolute gains in graduation rates for underrepresented students, while others can focus on closing gaps between these students and white students.
- Each bubble represents a different four-year college or university represented in the respective study samples. Note that not every institution will be listed since not all fit our study criteria.
- The size of the bubble represents the percentage of black or Hispanic students among all undergraduates enrolled in the fall of 2009.
- The bubble color indicates the type of institution: blue denotes private nonprofit institutions, while orange represents public institutions.
- For the gainer charts, the horizontal axes measure an institution’s change in graduation rates for black students or Hispanic students from 2004 to 2010. The vertical axes show the black or Hispanic graduation rate in 2010.
- For the gap-closer charts, the horizontal axes measure an institution’s change in graduation-gap size from 2004 to 2010. The vertical axes show the white-black or white-Hispanic graduation-rate gaps in 2010. (Read the instructions below on how to use the charts.)
Institutions in the African-American Gainer Sample
Institutions in the African-American Gap-Closer Sample
How to use this chart
- For the gainer charts, institutions in the top-right quadrant have seen an increase in black or Hispanic graduation rates, with rates above the study sample average. Conversely, institutions in the bottom-left quadrant have seen a decrease in black or Hispanic graduation rates, with rates below the study sample average. Schools in the top-left quadrant have decreased graduation rates for black or Hispanic students, but have above average rates; schools in the bottom-right quadrant have increased graduation rates, but have below average rates.
- For the gap-closer charts, institutions in the bottom half of the chart either do not have a gap between their underrepresented students and white students, or their underrepresented students outperform their white students — a “negative gap.” Schools in the bottom-left quadrant show that even if gaps did not exist in 2004 and 2010, their negative gaps have grown. Schools in the bottom-right quadrant show that gaps have grown larger, even as they retain a “no gap” or a negative gap status. On the other hand, schools in the top half of the graph have gaps separating the graduation rates of their underrepresented students and white students. Schools in the top-left quadrant have seen their gaps decrease over time, while schools in the top-right quadrant have seen their gaps increase over time.
- Look at overall trends for gaining and gap-closing: Is your institution, or are the institutions you’re examining, clustered in any one quadrant? Are they grouped in areas that show a trend toward increased or decreased graduation rates for black and Hispanic students? Are they below or above the study’s average? Does your institution have graduation-rate gaps, and are they getting decreasing or increasing? You can examine your school, all institutions in your state, or other peer colleges to benchmark your progress.
- Look at trends for gaining and gap-closing side-by-side: Do you see a need to improve graduation rates for all students? Or to focus on closing gaps between black or Hispanic students and their white peers?
- Define ranges: Are you interested in seeing how colleges perform based on their proportion of black or Hispanic students? Based on their current graduation rates or gap size in 2010? Or what the characteristics of institutions are based on their change in graduation rates and/or gap size? Use the filters to adjust the limits on these variables to see how schools that meet your criteria perform.
For a more detailed analysis of these data, read our companion briefs “Advancing to Completion: Increasing degree attainment by improving graduation rates and closing gaps for African-American students,” and “Advancing to Completion: Increasing degree attainment by improving graduation rates and closing gaps for Hispanic students."