National study highlights Idaho’s Hispanic college graduation gaps

Idaho’s Hispanic college enrollment numbers compare well with national averages, but the state’s graduation rates are lackluster at best, according to a study released Wednesday.

Hispanic students are underrepresented at two- and four-year colleges across most of the nation, and graduation rates lag from coast to coast, according to the Education Trust, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit.

Blaming the national trends on “systemic racism throughout the education system and society,” the Education Trust analyzes numbers for public universities in 44 states, including Idaho.

And Idaho gets mixed grades.

Enrollment numbers come relatively close to reflecting the state’s Hispanic population — so the state’s two- and four-year schools receive a B-minus grade. The enrollment gap at selective four-year schools is virtually nonexistent, earning Idaho an A grade.

But when it comes to graduation rates and demographic gaps, it’s another story. Here, Idaho’s two- and four-year schools receive grades of F and D, respectively. The Education Trust also compared bachelor’s degree attainment numbers for Hispanic students and white students; Idaho’s gap is somewhat smaller than the national average, earning the state a C grade.

The 56-page study underscores a recurring theme, as Idaho seeks to improve its languid and stagnant college graduation rates. In order to boost this graduation rate, state education leaders say they will need to attract more students of color, and help them navigate through college.

“By 2045, researchers predict that Latinos will represent one quarter of all U.S. residents, while whites will comprise less than half of the populace for the first time in this nation’s history,” the Education Trust said in its report. “Given these realities, it seems clear that our country’s prosperity will largely hinge on the success of Latinos.”

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