Graduation rates for minority students fell at Boise State University between 2003 and 2013, while the rate for white students improved, according to a study released Wednesday by a Washington, D.C., education advocacy group.
A total of 255 public universities with overall increases in graduation rates and significantly under-represented minority populations were included in the study.
Boise State was one of 58 public universities with overall graduation rate improvement and large minority populations where the graduation rates for African-American, Latino and Native American students declined, according to The Education Trust.
The graduation rate for minority students at Boise State dropped from 30.1 percent to 25.3 percent over the decade. At the same time, the graduation rate among white students increased 4.83 percentage points, making the 10-year change in the gap between minority and white students 9.7 percentage points.
Boise State was included in the report titled “Rising Tide: Do College Grad Rate Gains Benefit All Students?” Among the public universities surveyed, 197 schools had improving graduation rates for minorities, and 90 of them showed a decrease in the graduation gap.
The national gap, however, hasn’t closed much — by about 1 percent.
Boise State said that data from the past two years — not available to The Education Trust — shows the graduation gap dropping from 9.9 percent to 5.9 percent, when averaged over two years.
“Boise State is graduating more students from under-represented minority backgrounds every year — in fact, that number of graduates has more than doubled in the past five years alone,” said Greg Hahn, university spokesman.
No university is willing to accept achievement gaps among its students, and Boise State has undertaken a series of steps to boost graduation and retention rates for all students.
Greg Hahn, BSU spokesman
But universities must do more, said Kimberlee Eberle-Sudré, The Education Trust’s higher education policy analyst and co-author of the report.
The hope is that graduation rates “would never go down,” she said. They are important to individuals and to society.
“The growth of economic inequality and decline of social mobility in recent decades has made it that much more important that we increase the number of low-income students and students of color completing a college education,” she said.
Schools that showed a narrowing gap have done a number of things to help students, Eberle-Sudré said. They include:
▪ Changing the university culture to make minorities feel welcomed, including starting mentoring programs.
▪ Increasing aide to minority students.
▪ Reaching into high schools to work with students to prepare for college.
The study used three-year averages to arrive at graduation rates. It was unclear Wednesday whether the University of Idaho and Idaho State University were included in the study.