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Report: College degree gaps persist between Latino, Anglo Texans

Latino students in Texas still lag behind their Anglo peers in several important measures involving college completion, according to a new report from a national group. In Texas, 33 percent of working-age adults have an associate’s degree or higher, compared to only 16 percent of working-age Latinos. The U.S. average is 38 percent.

At the same time, graduation rates for Latino undergraduates are nearly 10 percentage points lower than for Anglos, 30 percent to 40 percent for first-time, full-time freshmen.

State Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, announced the release of the report, “Latino College Completion: Texas,” and discussed a new plan to address the issue of Latino degree completion, called, “Graduation Texas: Engage, Advise, Retain, Graduate,” at a press conference today in San Antonio.

Castro is the vice-chair of the Texas Legislature’s Committee on Higher Education.

Graduation Texas is a new project by ACT Inc. to increase college degree completion for South Texas students as part of the initiative “Ensuring America’s Future by Increasing Latino College Completion,” a collaborative effort among 60 national partners led by Excelencia in Education. Excelencia in Education’s initiative Ensuring America’s Future by Increasing Latino College Completion is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Lumina Foundation for Education and the Kresge Foundation.

“While some in Austin hope to slash education in the name of so-called fiscal responsibility, the partners assembled here all understand that our future economic success depends on investing in education and finding new ways for all Texans to succeed beyond high school,” said Castro, a partner in the Ensuring America’s Future initiative. “Texas has the second largest Latino population of any state and nearly half of our K -12 students are Latino, creating both the opportunity and a fierce sense of urgency to serve these children better by ensuring their future success in college.”

A fact sheet (download the .pdf via EdExcelencia.org) shows that between 2006 and 2008, the number of Latinos who earned undergraduate degrees in Texas grew by 7 percent, compared to just 4 percent for other groups. Among the top 10 states enrolling Latinos, Texas had one of largest increase in degrees granted to Latinos over a three-year period.“The data is compelling; the relative youth, growth, and current levels of educational attainment among Latinos show that our nation will not return to world leadership in college completion without a tactical plan focused on increasing Latino degree attainment,” said Deborah Santiago, co-founder of Excelencia in Education and its vice president for policy and research. “Nationally, Latinos will have to almost triple the number of degrees earned currently to reach the goal by 2020. As the state with the second highest proportion of Latinos, Texas is vital to America’s future

Excelencia’s Texas-based partners, ACT, announced its new program “Graduation Texas” to increase degree completion by identifying and offering counseling to first-generation college freshman.

“The data released today also makes it clear that these counseling services will be especially important to help ensure success for Latino students.” said Karen Pennell, ACT assistant vice president and regional manager.”

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