ESU Third in Improving Graduation Rates/Closing Gap for Black Students at Public, Four-Year Institutions

Posted by: Valentina Caval on March 25, 2016, No Comments

In a follow-up report released this week by The Education Trust, Rising Tide II: Do Black Students Benefit as Grad Rates Increase?, East Stroudsburg University (ESU) ranked third nationally and first in Pennsylvania among 232 institutions that have improved overall graduation rates during the past decade utilizing an average three-year graduation rate cohort size of at least 30 first-time, full-time black students and 30 first-time, full-time white students in 2003 and 2013. ESU was among the top 52 institutions, along with others such as The Ohio State University and Texas Tech, that stand out in the report for raising graduation rates among black students and narrowing gaps.

“At ESU we continue to do all we can to ensure our campus remains diverse,” said ESU President Marcia G. Welsh, Ph.D. “We welcomed a record 39 percent of minority students to ESU last fall and as our strategic plan indicates, we intend to continue to serve all students that choose our University with equal and outstanding educational opportunities.”  Welsh added that the number of African American freshmen in the 2015 entering class increased by 40.7% and Hispanic freshmen enrollment is up 14.4% over the previous year.

Findings indicate that completion rates for black students increased at almost 70 percent of the 232 public, four-year institutions that improved overall graduation rates during the 10-year span. According to the study, ESU’s 10-year overall graduation rate from 2003 to 2013 increased by 7.7 percent (2013 graduation rate percentage was 57.3). ESU, however, was among those schools who reported that the change in black student graduation rates for the same time period increased by 21 percent (42.3 n 2013) as opposed to a 7.5 percent for white students (59.2 in 2013).

“ESU’s admissions team is works tirelessly to understand the interests of high school students, especially with the help of guidance counselors and educators throughout the Northeast,” added Jeff Jones, director of admissions. “We want to be sure that the educational experience of all students is met but we also know that it’s important to provide them with appropriate cultural and life experiences that will prepare them for the career path they follow after graduation.”

While the news was good for ESU, the study found that more than half of the institutions (53 percent) examined had larger graduation rate gains for white students, widening the gaps between groups. The report also noted that nearly one-third of colleges and universities that improved overall student success saw graduates rates for black students that were flat or declining. The Education Trust’s report (attached) also named 27 institutions that have a declining graduation rate for black students and significantly widening gaps.

This is the second of two research papers looking at the graduation rates of traditionally underserved minority students. The first report — Rising Tide: Do College Grad Rate Gains Benefit All Students?was released in December 2015 and examined the graduation rates of Latino, Native, African American, and white students. In that earlier report, ESU was ranked sixth among the 255 institutions in exhibiting exceptional improvements in graduation rates and diminished gaps for underrepresented minority students (URMs).

“Institutional leaders can’t be satisfied with overall gains — or even just with any increase for black students,” said José Luis Santos, Ph.D., vice president of higher education policy and practice at Ed Trust. “Leaders must strive for accelerated gains among black students so they can catch up to their peers. Thankfully, there are institutions across the country that are showing the way forward.”

The Education Trust is a nonprofit advocacy organization that promotes high academic achievement for all students at all levels, pre-kindergarten through college. Its goal is to close the gaps in opportunity and achievement that consign far too many young people — especially those from low-income families or who are black, Latino or American Indian — to lives on the margins of the American mainstream. (https://edtrust.org/what-we-do/higher-ed/).  For more information about this report, please contact Nicolle Grayson, director of communications for The Education Trust, (202) 293-1217 (extension 354) or ngrayson@edtrust.org.