Racial and ethnic diversity among high school graduates will sharply increase in the United States, even as the overall number of graduates dips over the next seven years, a new report says.
There will be almost 207,000 more Hispanic graduates—an increase of 54 percent from 2004-05 to 2014-15, according to “Knocking at the College Door,” a demographic analysis issued last week by the Boulder, Colo.-based Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, or WICHE.
The regional organization, which promotes greater access and excellence in higher education, also anticipates an increase of about 46,000 Asian and Pacific Islander students, for a 32 percent rise.
Non-Hispanic black and American Indian/Alaska-native graduates are expected to rise by single digits over that decade. Non-Hispanic white graduates are expected to drop by 197,000 students, a dive of 11 percent.
Brian T. Prescott, a senior research analyst at WICHE, said the changing demographics represent a challenge to higher education policymakers, “particularly now in the growth in the number of students who have traditionally not participated in college.”
M. Peter McPherson, the president of the Washington-based National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, agreed. “The real question for the country is will we see another surge of students going to college,” said Mr. McPherson, a past president of Michigan State University. “That’s the wild card here.”
The report’s other significant finding is a projected moderate national decline in high school graduates overall until 2014-15.
But the report states that not all regions will see the same demographic shift. Over a 10-year span ending in the 2014-15 school year, for example, the number of high school graduates is expected to rise by more than 20 percent in six states in the South and Southwest.
Eight states—most in the Plains and New England—are projected to see a dip of 10 percent or more in the number of graduates.
A version of this article appeared in the March 26, 2008 edition of Education Week