Report: Big gaps in education for Az minority students
Fewer than half of all students prepared for college
Arizona has major ethnic and racial gaps in access to education and attainment, according to a new report produced by the Arizona Minority Policy Analysis Center.
According to the 92-page report, produced by the policy branch of the Arizona Commission for Post-Secondary Education, fewer than half of Arizona students meet the eligibility requirements for one of the state's three public universities, failing to complete the "sweet 16" of core classes with a C average or better.
Those courses include four years of English and mathematics, three years of lab science, as well as social studies, two years in a foreign language, and one year of fine art.
The report also notes that minority high school graduates are half as likely to be "college ready" as white students, creating huge gaps in educational outcomes. This despite the growing Hispanic student population, which surpassed the number of white students in 2012.
The report notes that sustaining the "status quo" in Arizona's educational system "undermines the state's economic future by framing its growth populations as dispensable." A situation the report argues must be remedied, else Arizona become a "second-tier state, educationally and economically," a quote that begins the report from the Morrison Institute.
The report notes that urban centers are more likely to produce college-ready students. Pima County had the highest rate of college-ready students at just above 50 percent, edging out Maricopa County slightly.
While some gains have been made, between 2011 and 2012 the dropout rate suddenly increased for all students, almost reversing a four-year trend. American Indian, Black and Hispanic students remain much more likely to drop out as white and Asian Pacific Americans.
The center also presented several recommendations: It should be easier for teachers in primary and secondary education to work on cultural competency and English as a Second Language learning. There should be an increase in cultural diversity among Arizona teachers. Universities and community colleges should set retention and graduation goals for minority students. And, programs that encourage Advanced Placement and study courses for student placement exams such as the SAT and ACT should receive more money.
By 2020, the report notes, Arizona's universities will produce around 30,000 bachelors degrees per year, however without serious changes to the state's educational system, many of these students may come from outside the state.
While about 25 percent of Arizona residents have a college degree, this puts the state slightly below the national average of 27.5 percent. Among the 50 states, Arizona is ranked 26, according to the Census Bureau.
Among states in the Southwest, Arizona ranks above Nevada and New Mexico, but below Utah, California and Colorado.