Addressing Latino Outcomes at California’s Hispanic-Serving Institutions

Latina and Latino High School Graduates are Disproportionately Enrolled in Community Colleges

11.13.2013, by Lindsey Malcom-Piqueux

 

Photo courtesy of California State University, Stanislaus

An analysis of college enrollment data reveals that Latino high school graduates are more likely to attend California community colleges than their white, Asian, and African American counterparts. As shown in Table 1, more than one-third of Latino high school graduates enroll in the state’s community college system, compared with about one-quarter of Asian, white, and African American high school graduates.

 

Nearly 10 percent of Latino high school graduates attend one of the California State University (CSU) institutions, making them slightly more likely to attend a CSU than white and African American high school graduates. However, less than 4 percent of Latinos attend a University of California campus after completing high school—a figure far below the quarter of Asian high school graduates who enroll in the highly selective UC system.

 

 

 

 

Table 1. College-Attendance Rates of California High School Graduates by Public Higher Education System and Race/Ethnicity, 2010

 

Community College Attendance Rate

CSU Attendance Rate

UC Attendance Rate

Latina/o

33.7%

9.8%

3.9%

Asian

25.9%

13.2%

25.0%

White

23.1%

8.7%

5.2%

African   American

24.5%

8.3%

3.7%

Source: Author’s calculations based on California Postsecondary Education Commission’s (CPEC) online data system and California Department of Education (CDE) Academic Performance Index data files, 2010.

What accounts for these racial and ethnic differences in the patterns of college attendance among California high school graduates? Previous research has found the concentration of Latinos in the public two-year sector to be attributable to many factors, including the relatively low cost, geographic accessibility, and curricular and program flexibility of community colleges (e.g., Crisp & Nora, 2010; Nora & Crisp, 2009). Researchers have also pointed to systemic disparities in K-12 school quality experienced by Latinos and the consequences that attending disadvantaged and underresourced schools have on Latino student college readiness (Nora & Crisp, 2009).

However, an in-depth examination of pathways from California high schools to the state’s public higher education institutions reveals that even Latinos who graduate from the state’s top-performing high schools (that is, those who rank in the top 10 percent of Academic Performance Index, or API, scores) are significantly more likely to enroll in a community colleges than their Asian, white, and African American counterparts.

 

Source: Author’s calculations based on California Postsecondary Education Commission’s (CPEC) online data system and California Department of Education (CDE) Academic Performance Index data files, 2010.

Figure 1 illustrates the community college attendance rate of Californian high school graduates by high school API rank and race and ethnicity. A score of 1 indicates the lowest API, while 10 is the highest rank. Among students who graduated from the state’s lowest-performing high schools, Asians have the highest community college attendance rate. However, as high school API rank increases, the likelihood of enrolling in a community college drops for Asian high school graduates and rises sharply for Latinos. As shown, 46 percent of Latinos who graduate from high schools with an API rank of 10 enroll in community colleges, compared with 19 percent of Asians, 23 percent of African Americans, and 27 percent of whites.

 

Source: Author’s calculations based on California Postsecondary Education Commission’s (CPEC) online data system and California Department of Education (CDE) Academic Performance Index data files, 2010.

Figure 2 depicts the CSU attendance rate of high school graduates by API rank, disaggregated by race and ethnicity. Among students who graduate from the lowest-ranked high schools (an API rank of 1), Asians have the highest likelihood of enrolling in a CSU (15 percent), and Latinos are the least likely to enroll in a CSU (4 percent). As API rank increases, however, the CSU attendance rate increases for Latinos, whites, and African Americans and decreases for Asian high school graduates. Among students who graduate from the highest-performing high schools, Latinos are more likely than whites, African Americans, or Asian high school graduates to enroll in a CSU (15 percent).

 

Source: Author’s calculations based on California Postsecondary Education Commission’s (CPEC) online data system and California Department of Education (CDE) Academic Performance Index data files, 2010.

UC attendance rates by high school API rank are shown in Figure 3. The data illustrate that Asian high school graduates are significantly more likely than Latinos, African Americans, and whites to attend a UC institution. This pattern holds true across all high school API ranks. Just 5 percent of Latino graduates from the top-performing high schools enroll in a UC, compared with 34 percent of Asians. Interestingly, white and African American graduates from the highest-ranked high schools attend UC at rates that are nearly as low as that of Latinos (6 percent).

The college enrollment data presented here illustrate disturbing inequities in Latino high school graduates’ access to California’s public higher education institutions. Even at high schools that perform well academically, Latinos are most likely to attend open-access community colleges and least likely to attend the highly selective UC system.

 

References

California Department of Education. (2010). 2009 Base Academic Performance Index data files. Retrieved from http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/ac/ap/apidatafiles.asp

California Postsecondary Education Commission. (2010). Custom Data Reports. Retrieved from http://cpec.ca.gov/OnLineData/OnLineData.asp

Crisp, G., & Nora, A. (2010). Hispanic student success: Factors influencing the persistence and transfer decisions of Latino community college students enrolled in developmental education. Research in Higher Education, 51, 175–194.

Nora, A., & Crisp, G. (2009). Hispanic and higher education: An overview of research, theory, and practice. In J. C. Smart (Ed.), Higher education: Handbook of theory and research (Vol. XXIV, 317–353). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Latino Outcomes at California’s Hispanic-Serving Institutions, analyzing data on the 112 Hispanic Serving Institutions in CA, is a digital publication produced by the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute at USC of USC’s Price School of Public Policy and the Center for Urban Education of USC’s Rossier School of Education.
Lead Author: Lindsey Malcom-Piqueux
Major Contributors: Estela Mara Bensimon, Roberto Suro, and Anna Fischer
Research Assistants: Alicen Bartle, Jeremy Loudenback, and Jonathan Rivas.
Click here for more information about the authors and contributors.

USC Rossier School of Education

ABOUT THIS PROJECT

The Tomás Rivera Policy Institute, a university research center with the mission to address the challenges and opportunities of demographic diversity in the 21st century global city, has produced these featured digital publications using the USC Media Curator, an online publishing platform designed to bring together innovative research from across the University of Southern California and beyond. This project curates research on the topics of the Latino Middle-Class and Hispanic-Serving Institutions. For additional research conducted by TRPI, including curated research on the topic of naturalization, visit trpi.org.

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