Black students have been (slowly) closing the gap on whites in terms of in high school test scores and graduation rates. But the divide at the college level remains wide. In 2007, the gap in postsecondary attainment (at least an associate degree) between blacks and whites was 13.3 percent (41.0 percent vs. 27.7 percent). The gap remained in the double digits, at 13.6 percent (46.9 percent vs. 33.3 percent), in 2015.
DO BLACK COLLEGES HELP?
Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) serve just 0.1 percentof the overall student population, but account for 20 percent of black students who complete bachelor’s degrees. The performance of these institutions is often questioned, given that they have graduation rates about 21 percentage points lower than non-HBCUs, as well as debt levels that often exceed those reported by students at predominantly white institutions. HBCUs have also faced questions over their capacity to generate consistent and positive earnings gains for their graduates.
The claim of HBCUs to be engines of upward mobility can now, however, be tested more directly. New administrative data just released along with a paper from researchers at the Equal Opportunity Project shows that HBCUs actually have a better track record at fostering mobility than many thought.