Nonprofit releases Latino college completion data for all 50 states

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Excelencia in Education, a nonprofit organization that provides data analysis about the academic achievement of Latinos, today released state-by-state research on Latino college completion.

Metropolitan areas like Philadelphia are not represented in the report, though Deborah Santiago, vice president for policy and research for Excelencia in Education and author of the report, said “I think it’s important to look at urban sites as well.”

In Pennsylvania – which has the 13th largest Latino population in the United States – 20 percent of Latino adults ages 25 to 64 have earned an associate degree or higher, compared to 39 percent of all adults. This data is in line with the national average, but still typifies the disparities that exist in college completion across all racial groups. In fact, in most states, Latino adults have lower degree-attainment levels than other groups.

West Virginia is an outlier as the one state that has a higher percentage of Latino adults who have earned credentials over their non-Hispanic counterparts (28 percent vs. 26 percent).

Nationally, 19 percent of Latino adults ages 25 to 64 have earned an associate degree or higher, compared to 38 percent of all adults. Excelencia in Education created 50 research-based fact sheets to illustrate the most current status of college completion among Latinos in individual states. Each fact sheet includes:

  • state-level data about the population,
  • representation in grades K-12,
  • educational attainment among adults,
  • multiple measures of equity gaps in degree attainment, and
  • examples of programs/practices used across the country that are showing promise in helping to improve Latino college completion at post-secondary institutions.

The United States holds fast to its goal to become a world leader in college degree attainment by 2020, and the Obama administration has put focus and dollars behind this effort. But achieving this goal means – in part – increasing the college completion rates among Latinos. According to Excelencia in Education’s research, in order for the United States to regain top ranking in the world for college completion, Latinos will need to earn 5.5 million degrees by 2020.

Dennis Jones, president of the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, said, “It will be impossible for the U.S. to meet its future, societal, and workforce needs if Latino educational attainment is not substantially improved.

“There is absolutely no way to get to the President’s goal only by educating Anglos and other minority populations. If Latinos aren’t part of the success story, then the U.S. itself does not have a success story.”

In 2009, Excelencia in Education created the Ensuring America’s Future by Increasing Latino College Completion initiative to respond to this national challenge and target Latino college completion specifically. The release of this data is just one part of the initiative.

Excelencia in Education president Sarita Brown said the organization will now take its work to communities across the country. On Thursday, April 12, the group will visit – along with six of its initiative partners – the campus of the Georgia Institute of Technology to hold a briefing to discuss Latino college completion in the South.

“It is our commitment to always use data, but to hold ourselves accountable for the country’s educational system at the post-secondary level [and its] capacity to enroll, serve, and graduate increasing numbers of American society – which is Latino,” Brown said.