The Hechinger Report is a national nonprofit newsroom that reports on one topic: education. Sign up for our weekly newsletters to get stories like this delivered directly to your inbox.

Get important education news and analysis delivered straight to your inbox

Choose from our newsletters

Source: Excellencia in Education

With a population more than twice as Hispanic as the national average, California has a lower-than-average proportion of Hispanics with college or university educations, and no institution among the top five for awarding them degrees, according to a new study.

The state is 38 percent Hispanic, compared to the national average of 17 percent. But only 16 percent of adults aged 25 or older have degrees, compared to the national average for Hispanics of 20 percent, the study, by the advocacy organization Excelencia in Education, finds.

“Why does California, the state with the largest Latino population in the nation, not have a single college break into the top five nationally for awarding degrees to Latinos?” asked Deborah Santiago, Excelencia in Education’s chief operating officer and vice president for policy.

It’s an increasingly important question as more Hispanics head to college. Nearly a quarter of students from kindergarten through Grade 12 are Hispanic nationwide, and more than half in California and New Mexico and nearly half in Texas.

The study finds that the gap in graduation rates between Hispanics and whites nationally is shrinking. Forty-one percent of Hispanics got two-year-associate’s degrees within three years or four-year bachelor’s degrees within six, compared to 50 percent of whites. That’s a difference of 9 percentage points, down from 14 percentage points two years go.

But the study says Hispanics will need to earn another 5.5 million degrees above current levels for the United States to regain its place as the nation with the greatest college attainment. Today, it’s fallen to 14th in the percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds with a higher education, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The Hechinger Report provides in-depth, fact-based, unbiased reporting on education that is free to all readers. But that doesn't mean it's free to produce. Our work keeps educators and the public informed about pressing issues at schools and on campuses throughout the country. We tell the whole story, even when the details are inconvenient. Help us keep doing that.

Join us today.

Jon Marcus writes and edits stories about, and helps plan coverage of, higher education. A former magazine editor, he has written for The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Wired, Medium.com...

Letters to the Editor

2 Letters

At The Hechinger Report, we publish thoughtful letters from readers that contribute to the ongoing discussion about the education topics we cover. Please read our guidelines for more information.

By submitting your name, you grant us permission to publish it with your letter. We will never publish your email. You must fill out all fields to submit a letter.

  1. The Hispanic population in California consists of more new immigrants than in other states. It takes seven to eights years to learn a new language, hence California students lag behind with a larger proportion and the time it takes to acquire the language for success. Also, the Mexican education system ranks at or near the bottom compared to other countries. Students moving from Mexico and other countries with less than stellar education have a much harder time catching up, mush less making it in and through college. http://pointeviven.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-common-core-shift-time-and-money.html

Submit a letter

Your email address will not be published.