Equity & Diversity

Big Boost in College Degrees to Blacks Reported

By Jessica L. Sandham — March 05, 1997 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Washington

More than ever before, African-Americans are entering college and succeeding, reports a book released last week that examines the enrollment and achievement patterns of blacks in higher education programs over the past two decades.

The number of blacks awarded bachelor’s degrees increased by 40.2 percent from 1976 to 1994, compared with a nationwide increase of only 27.2 percent for the same period, according to The Status of Education in Black America. The book is the first of three volumes with in-depth statistical analyses about blacks in American education to be released by the Frederick D. Patterson Institute, a research branch of the Fairfax, Va.-based United Negro College Fund.

The two other volumes, scheduled for release later this year, will include data on K-12 education and the school-to-work transition.

“The numbers do explode a lot of the previously held myths about black education,” William H. Gray III, the president and chief executive officer of the UNCF, said at a press conference here last week. “Look at the numbers, both good and bad, and let them speak for themselves.”

Many of the overall gains made by African-Americans can be attributed to black women, who are twice as likely to obtain baccalaureate and master’s degrees as are black men, the study notes.

There was also an explosive 219 percent increase in the number of black women awarded professional degrees from 1976 to 1994, according to the book.

Disparities Continue

Though many of the data are encouraging, the book’s statistics also show where disparities remain. While African-Americans represented 14.3 of the college-age population, they accounted for only 10.1 percent of the nation’s college students in 1994. Underrepresentation is greatest at competitive research universities and the most expensive four-year colleges, the researchers found.

In addition, although more blacks are taking tests required for admission to graduate and professional schools, their scores are still significantly lower than those of their white peers.

The data, however, also reveal that African-Americans often face greater obstacles in their pursuit of a college degree--many of them financial. Half of all the black degree recipients who depended on their families for financial support in 1994 came from families with incomes below $40,000 a year. Only 24.2 percent of white students faced similar circumstances.

Compared with whites, more blacks also entered college with lower grade-point averages, lower standardized-test scores, and lower levels of parental education.

“Against these odds, African-American students continue to value a college education and prove themselves competitive by going on to achieve advanced degrees,” Mr. Gray said.

Mr. Gray said that he hopes the book will help future policymakers and educators pinpoint the areas where blacks face the greatest challenges so that more progress can be made.

During the past seven months, researchers at the Patterson Institute gathered the information for the book from more than 40 national databases, including those compiled by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the New York City-based College Board, which sponsors the SAT, and the Educational Testing Service of Princeton, N.J., which administers the widely used college-entrance exam.

“Nothing is more valuable for making good public policy than having good information,” Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley said at the press conference. “This book is a wonderful, new resource that can help us shape more effective policies for African-Americans in higher education.”

For More Information:

Copies of The Status of Education in Black America, Volume I: Higher and Adult Education are available for $25 each, plus $3.25 shipping, from the Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute, 8260 Willow Oaks Corporate Drive, P.O. Box 10444, Fairfax, Va. 22031-4511; (800) 332-UNCF, ext. 2000; fax:(703) 205-2012. Information is also available on the World Wide Web at http://www.patterson-uncf.org.

Related Tags:

Events

Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Equity & Diversity Opinion No, Love Won’t Fix Institutional Racism in Education
Racially just books are under attack in schools. Defending an anti-racist curriculum demands a deeper understanding of how power operates.
Altheria Caldera
4 min read
Photo of separated black and white chess pieces
Radachynskyi/iStock/Getty Images Plus<br/>
Equity & Diversity Spotlight Spotlight on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
This Spotlight will empower you to assess where the work still needs to be done to ensure your students and educators are represented and included.
Equity & Diversity Transgender Students and School Sports: Six Things to Know About a Raging Debate
States have considered a surge of legislation that would restrict transgender students from teams that align with their gender identity.
9 min read
Laur Kaufman, 13, of Harlingen, waves a flag at a rally against House Bill 25, a bill that would ban transgender girls from participating in girls school sports, outside the Capitol in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021.
Laur Kaufman, 13, of Harlingen, Texas, waves a flag at a rally at the state capitol in Austin against a bill that would restrict transgender students' access to single-sex sports teams.
Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP
Equity & Diversity Census Prompts Push for More Indigenous School Lessons
American Indians and Alaska Natives say census numbers prove that Indigenous history should get more attention in public school classrooms.
Tim Henderson, Stateline.org
7 min read
Tatanka Gibson of the Haliwa-Saponi/Nansemond Tribal Nations leads attendees in song and dance during a gathering marking Indigenous Peoples Day at Penn Treaty Park in Philadelphia, Monday, Oct. 11, 2021.
Tatanka Gibson of the Haliwa-Saponi/Nansemond Tribal Nations leads attendees in song and dance during a gathering marking Indigenous Peoples Day at Penn Treaty Park in Philadelphia.
Matt Rourke/AP