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Education Opinion

Why Asian-Minority Data Need Better Division

By Matthew Lynch — May 26, 2016 1 min read

Certain minorities carry with them stereotypes associated with education. The idea that Asian students regularly excel academically is a myth that at times prohibits students from receiving the support they may need, according to experts and the students themselves.

Asian American Pacific Islander students include but are not limited to Chinese, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Laotian and Samoan Americans, yet are all placed under the racial group “Asian” by the Department of Education. This often makes it difficult to compile academic statistics associated with each subgroup.

Coinciding with AAPI month, the U.S. Department of Education just announced a $1 million grant to encourage states to differentiate data on Asian students. Education secretary, John King states in a recently released video that the minority myth “has prevented AAPI communities from fully benefiting from federal programs and resources that can support vulnerable and underserved people.”

Many Asian immigrants do not have access to economic privileges and may be glossed over in terms of education. If a student has undocumented immigrant parents the possibility of detainment does not allow the student proper headspace to effectively learn. Often times completion of college courses may be in jeopardy when these types of issues come into play.

There is a significant difference in degree completion between subgroups. In California alone, one study documented a 60 percent variation across subgroups in the Asian American population. Though 70 percent of Indian adults have obtained a bachelor’s degree or higher, just 10 percent of Laotian adults have achieved this level of education. Comparatively, Asian American students have much higher college completion rates than Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander students.

The initiative is important, to ensure that at-risk AAPI students receive the academic opportunities necessary for success. By focusing on the specific needs of AAPI students directly, changes can be made to enhance educational interventions.

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