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Beyond the News

Hispanic Student Success

University Business, November 2012

As the Supreme Court revisits the idea of affirmative action in college admissions, new reports have been released looking at the success of Hispanic students in higher education.

“Advancing to Completion: Increasing degree attainment by improving graduation rates and closing gaps for Hispanic students,” a report from The Education Trust, shows improvements in six-year graduation rates for students at studied schools. Another report looks at success of African American students and updates previous briefs on these populations.

“This is a good news story,” says co-author Mary Nguyen, higher education research and policy analyst at The Education Trust. “We’ve found a lot of institutions have made progress over time.”

The report shows that 2004 to 2010, Hispanic graduation rates increased by 3.5 percentage points, from 43.7 percent in 2004 to 47.2 percent in 2010.

The efforts of Texas Tech University are highlighted, which not only increased its Hispanic population by 30 percent, but also increased graduation rates by 18 percent, from 40.5 percent in 2004 to 58.7 percent in 2010. Campus leadership consolidated disparate efforts under a Division of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Community Engagement, adding visibility to the programs. Having intentionality in programs will help the effort’s success, advises Nguyen. “At the same time, the programming has to be implemented at an institutionwide level. The isolated pockets of programs have to have a campuswide infrastructure to support them. That is where the gains are.”

Stony Brook University (N.Y.) was also highlighted in the report for increasing Hispanic graduation rates by 16 percent. The “Economic Opportunity Program” provides an array of support services for low-income students. While not targeted at the minority population, those students “were disproportionally benefiting,” says co-author Jennifer Engle, director of higher education research and policy at The Education Trust. Integrating these populations into the wider community benefits not only the target students, but the wider campus population, as well.

Another new report, from Excelencia in Education, identifies programs focused on boosting Latino enrollment, performance, and graduation. Since 2005, the organization has been reviewing and highlighting successful programs around the country.

“By sharing best practices, we hope to prompt educators and policymakers to challenge the current state of Latino achievement in higher education and inspire them to work to increase Latino student success,” the authors write.

The full studies can be found at and