New Education Trust Report Highlights Need for Continued Focus on Latino Student Success

Author: Helios Education Foundation

June 14, 2018

Today, The Education Trust released its most recent report titled, “The State of Higher Education Equity.”  The report provides state-by-state snapshots of the state of college degree attainment for minority students. While the report does highlight some positive news, it also  reinforces that we have significant work to do to close the gap between White and Latino degree attainment.

It is clear that Arizona must prioritize the educational success and increase the degree attainment of our students in order to secure the future economic viability of our state.  Higher educational achievement leads to more job security, employment opportunities and higher wages for individuals as well as a stronger workforce and greater e  conomic stability for communities. That is why Helios is a proud supporter of Achieve60AZ, a community-led effort to ensure that 60 percent of Arizonans have a postsecondary degree or certificate by 2030. 

While we know that we must increase degree attainment across the board, Helios has prioritized the Latino community through our Latino Student Success initiative.  The reason is clear - the Latino population is the fastest-growing population group in Arizona and Latino students make up the largest proportion of students in the state’s K-12 public schools.  Thus, Latino Student Success is Arizona’s future success.

The sheer number of Latino students in our state’s K-12 and postsecondary education systems today is a sign of things to come.  Latinos will make up the majority of Arizona’s workforce pipeline tomorrow and far into the future.  Improving Latino college success will contribute to Arizona’s ability to expand, attract and retain vital growth industries, and ultimately, to transform Arizona from a low-skill, service economy to a high-skill, knowledge-based economy.   The demographic shift in Arizona’s population requires that we consider how we are preparing students to lead our state successfully into the future.

The Education Trust report demonstrates that there have been national gains in degree attainment over time for Latino adults, but these gains have not been enough to close a persistent gap in Latino and White attainment.  In fact, the report highlights that Latino adults are less likely to hold a college degree today than White adults were in 1990.   

Since 2000, Latino degree attainment has increased by more than 7 percentage points for a total of 22 percent of Latino adults having earned an associate degree or higher.  However, White degree attainment has increased by 9.5 percentage points resulting in a total of 47 percent of White adults having earned an associate degree or higher.

The report also looks at individual state data and gives each state a letter grade as an indicator of Latino degree attainment.  While Arizona received a D in overall Latino Attainment ranking, we received a B- in our grade for progress on improving Latino attainment since 2000.  This is a strong indication that we are heading in the right direction and the focused work of Helios and others specifically on Latino students is paying off. 

While we have significant work to do, we can and should celebrate that we are making progress in closing the degree attainment gap and ensuring that more students pursue and complete a postsecondary degree – helping to prepare them for a successful future and helping to develop Arizona’s future workforce.

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