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February 27, 2013 1:50 PM Why So Few Black Students Graduate From College

By Daniel Luzer

High school graduation may be up, but we still have a long way to go it appears.

That’s according to a new report released by the Education Trust. As the Los Angeles Times explained:

African American public school students in Los Angeles County demonstrate significant learning gaps by second grade; those gaps widen with age and lead to the highest school dropout rate among all races, according to a report released Monday.
Black students are far less likely to take the rigorous college preparatory classes required for admission to California universities and miss more school days because of suspensions than their white counterparts.

If current trends continue only 5 percent of black kindergarteners in LA County will earn a bachelor’s degree. It’s difficult to know from this one school district what’s going on in the rest of the country, but it certainly doesn’t look good.

This (really) low completion rate probably has a great deal to do with academic preparation. According to a recent piece from Education Sector, “on average, the difference between white student and black student performance is 104.63 points, a little over two academic years. In other words, an 8th grade black student is performing at the same level as a mid-year 5th grader.”

While African American graduation rates increased from 59.2 percent in 2006 to more than 66 percent in 2010, the persistance of these learning gaps helps explain why college completion is often, like in the LA case, so rare.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer