Higher Education Policy for Minorities in the United States

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The Collection of Higher Education Policy for Minorities contains a variety of open access resources that provide a comprehensive and balanced view on higher education policy analysis for minorities in the United States. This Collection aims to disseminate high quality research to encourage the academic community, policymakers, and the public to engage and improve educational aspects and challenges that minority groups face. The collection contains population characterizations and policy analysis especially for the following minority groups: Latin American students, African American students, and Asian students. The selected materials come from approximately 70 organizations at the international, national, and local levels, as well as public, profit and non-profit organizations. The materials particularly focus on issues related to higher education access, educational attainment, educational financing, admission process and retention policies, cultural mismatch, socioeconomic barriers, and normative analyzes of educational equity. Most resources are available in English, but there are a few available in Spanish.


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  • Deportations Near the Schoolyard: Examining Immigration Enforcement and Racial/Ethnic Gaps in Educational Outcomes
    Kirksey, J. Jacob; Sattin-Bajaj, Carolyn; Gottfried, Michael A.; Freeman, Jennifer; Ozuna, Christopher S. (SAGE, 2020-01-13)
    With increased tensions and political rhetoric surrounding immigration enforcement in the United States, schools are facing greater challenges in ensuring support for their students of immigrant and Latino/a origin. This study examined the associations between deportations near school districts and racial/ethnic gaps in educational outcomes in school districts across the country. With data from the Stanford Educational Data Archive, the Civil Rights Data Collection, and the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, this study used longitudinal, cross-sectional analyses and found that in the years when districts had more deportations occurring within 25 miles, White-Latino/a gaps were larger in math achievement and rates of chronic absenteeism. No associations were found for gaps in English language arts achievement or rates of bullying. Implications for researchers, policymakers, and school leaders are discussed.
  • Does Money Matter More in the Country? Education Funding Reductions and Achievement in Kansas, 2010–2018
    Rauscher, Emily (SAGE, 2020-10-07)
    The U.S. Department of Education made recent technical changes reducing eligibility for the Rural and Low-Income School Program. Given smaller budgets and lower economies of scale, rural districts may be less able to absorb short-term funding cuts and experience stronger negative achievement effects. Kansas implemented a state-level finance change (block grant funding) after 2015, which froze district revenue regardless of enrollment and reduced funding in districts where enrollment increased. Difference-in-differences models compare achievement before and after block grant implementation to estimate effects of funding cuts separately in rural and nonrural districts. Between-state and within-state comparisons offer complementary identification strategies in which the strengths of one approach help address limitations of the other. Revenue/spending reductions are similar by geography but represent a larger fraction of rural district budgets. Results indicate that revenue reductions have larger implications for achievement in rural areas, where they represent a larger proportion of the total budget.
  • Ten Challenges and Recommendations for Advancing Research on the Effects of College on Students
    Seifert, Tricia A.; Bowman, Nicholas A.; Wolniak, Gregory C.; Rockenbach, Alyssa N.; Mayhew, Matthew J. (SAGE, 2017-03-23)
    The first two volumes of How College Affects Students constitute the most-cited publications in higher education research. Since these volumes were published, the literature on college impact has expanded greatly, which is at least partially the result of the nearly 500 journals focusing on the scholarship of teaching and learning internationally. In addition to the increase in the quantity of college impact research, methodological advancements and the changing notion of the higher education enterprise have further shaped the rigor and tenor of the literature. We draw on our experience and lessons learned from conducting the most recent comprehensive synthesis of college impact literature to discuss 10 challenges and corresponding recommendations to advance future research of the effects of college on students.
  • The Structure of Student Engagement in Community College Student Success Programs: A Quantitative Activity Systems Analysis
    Hatch, Deryl K. (SAGE, 2017-10-11)
    Community colleges increasingly implement various student success programs, including 1st-year seminars, college skills courses, learning communities, and orientation, in an effort to boost degree completion. However, it is unclear how success programs’ curricular designs may contribute to these and associated student outcomes. Such inquiry is limited, in part, by the lack of methodological frameworks for program impact heterogeneity research. This study proposes a new conceptualization of nominally different student success programs as instances of a broader activity, which also provides a way to operationalize their curricular structures in comparable ways. Second, to briefly illustrate this approach, the study leverages matched program and student data to investigate how variations in student engagement—an emergent intermediate outcome for fostering successful college going—are related to variation in program design. Findings reveal that structural and underutilized curricular elements may be more impactful than skills-based curricula that are typically the organizing focus of these programs.
  • Design Parameters for Impact Research in Science Education: A Multistate Analysis
    Spybrook, Jessaca; Westine, Carl D.; Taylor, Joseph A. (SAGE, 2016-01-07)
    The Common Guidelines for Education Research and Development were created as a joint effort between the Institute of Education Science and the National Science Foundation in an effort to streamline education research and contribute to an accumulation of knowledge that will lead to improved student outcomes. One type of research that emerged in the guidelines is impact research. In order to achieve the level of rigor expected for an impact study, it is common that a research team will employ a cluster randomized trial (CRT). This article provides empirical estimates of design parameters necessary for planning adequately powered CRTs focused on science achievement. Examples of how to use these parameters to improve the design of science impact studies are discussed.
  • Diversity and Equity in the Distribution of Teachers With Special Education Credentials: Trends From California
    Man Yang; Cooc, North (SAGE, 2016-11-28)
    The shortage of special education teachers (SETs) is a persistent challenge in the United States, but less is known about two other important issues that affect students with disabilities: racial diversity within the SET workforce and the distribution of SETs. Using administrative data on all teachers in California from 1997 to 2014, we examine the racial composition and distribution of teachers with special education credentials. Our results from descriptive and regression analyses show that while teachers with special education credentials remain majority White, the number of teachers of color with special education credentials has increased at a rate more than twice that of general education teachers and special education students of color. We also find that much of the distribution of teachers with special education credentials occurs across districts within the same regional county, while disparities in teacher qualifications are larger by school poverty, racial composition, and student achievement. The results have policy implications for improving diversity and educational equity within the special education workforce
  • Instruction Quality or Working Condition? The Effects of Part-Time Faculty on Student Academic Outcomes in Community College Introductory Courses
    Xiaotao Ran, Florence; Sanders, Jasmine M. (SAGE, 2020-01-20)
    More than half of community college courses are taught by part-time faculty. Drawing on data from six community colleges, this study estimates the effects of part-time faculty versus full-time faculty on students’ current and subsequent course outcomes in developmental and gateway courses, using course fixed effects and propensity score matching to minimize bias arising from student self-sorting across and within courses. We find that part-time faculty have negative effects on student subsequent enrollments. These negative effects are driven by results in math courses. We also find that course schedules could explain substantial proportions of the estimated negative effects, while faculty individual characteristics could not. Survey results on faculty professional experiences suggest that part-time faculty had less institutional knowledge regarding both academic and nonacademic services. We infer that inferior working conditions for part-time faculty, rather than inferior instructional practices, contribute to the negative effects we observed on students’ subsequent course enrollment.
  • Mentoring in Research-Practice Partnerships: Toward Democratizing Expertise
    Ghiso, María Paula; Campano, Gerald; Schwab, Emily R.; Asaah, Dee; Rusoja, Alicia (SAGE, 2019-10-09)
    Reconceiving relationships between universities, schools, and community organizations through research-practice partnerships, and building capacity for partnership work, necessarily entails rethinking the mentorship of graduate students. In this article, we describe our findings on what mentorship looks like in a now 9-year RPP focusing on educational equity through participatory approaches. The authors include the two project principal investigators and three doctoral students who participated at different stages of the project, one of whom is now a faculty member. In our analysis, we identify dimensions of a more horizontal form of mentorship, involving qualities and skills that extend beyond traditional practices of academic apprenticeship: universalizing who is an intellectual, cultivating community responsiveness, implementing collective structures and protocols, and constructing a shared vision. Our findings shift conceptions of mentorship from individual apprenticeship into a narrowly defined discipline to a collective undertaking that aims to democratize expertise and enact a new vision of the public scholar.
  • The Long-Term Impact of Systemic Student Support in Elementary School: Reducing High School Dropout
    Lee-St. John, Terrence J.; Walsh, Mary E.; Raczek, Anastasia E.; Vuilleumier, Caroline E.; Foley, Claire; Heberle, Amy; Sibley, Erin; Dearing, Eric (SAGE, 2018-10-02)
    Dropping out of high school has adverse consequences, including negative effects on employment, lifetime earnings, and physical health. Students often fail to complete high school for complex reasons that often manifest long before they reach high school. This study examines the link between participation in a comprehensive elementary school student support intervention and high school dropout. In this study, students who attended intervention elementary schools in a large, urban, high-poverty district during 2001–2014 (N=894) were compared to students who did not attend intervention schools (N=10,200). Likelihood of dropping out in grades 9–12 was estimated using propensity score-weighted Discrete Event History Analysis. Intervention students had approximately half the odds of dropout (p<.001); the probability of dropout for intervention was 9.2%, compared to 16.6% for non-intervention students. Individually tailored student support interventions during elementary school can lead to lasting and meaningful effects.
  • Does Postsecondary Persistence in STEM Vary by Gender?
    King, Barbara (SAGE, 2016-09-14)
    The underrepresentation of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is often explained by women’s greater likelihood to leave STEM at each key juncture from elementary school into the workforce. It is important to examine this more closely and look for points in the pipeline where gender equity exists. This study uses nationally representative data from a recent cohort of college students to investigate thoroughly gender differences in STEM persistence. Results indicate that no significant gender differences in persistence exist. This finding holds among those in computer science, engineering, mathematics, and physical science, and for those in life science. Additionally, the results are unchanged if the sample is limited to degree earners and are robust to the inclusion of individual and institutional variables. Although it is clear that women are less likely to choose certain STEM majors, those who do are no less likely to earn a STEM degree.
  • Race and Stratification in College Enrollment Over Time
    Baker, Rachel B.; Klasik, Daniel; Reardon, Sean F. (SAGE, 2018-01-18)
    In this article, the authors measure college enrollment selectivity gaps by race-ethnicity using a novel method that is sensitive to both the level (2- vs. 4-year) and selectivity of the college in which students enroll. We find that overall Hispanic–White and Black–White enrollment selectivity gaps closed in the United States between 1986 and 2014. This overall closing of gaps appears to be related to the closing of high school graduation gaps. However, this contraction was driven almost entirely by students at the margin between no college and college enrolling in non-degree-granting programs. Among students who enrolled in degree-granting schools, Black students have enrolled at increasingly less selective institutions than White students, whereas Hispanic–White gaps remained relatively unchanged over the nearly 30 years of our study. These gaps are concerning because of their implications for long-term economic inequality.
  • Learning Race and Racism While Learning: Experiences of International Students Pursuing Higher Education in the Midwestern United States
    Mitchell, Donald Jr.; Steele, Tiffany; Marie, Jakia (SAGE, 2017-07-14)
    Researchers have documented how race and racism influence the college experiences of U.S. citizens. However, research on the ways that race and racism affect international students warrants similar attention. This qualitative study explored how international students learned about U.S. concepts of race and racism and how such concepts shaped their college experiences. The participating international college students learned about U.S. concepts of race and racism through media, relationships, formal education, and lived experiences. They defined these concepts in varying ways and had varying racial ideologies.
  • Do Student Mindsets Differ by Socioeconomic Status and Explain Disparities in Academic Achievement in the United States?
    Destin, Mesmin; Hanselman, Paul; Buontempo, Jenny; Tipton Elizabeth; Yeager, David S. (SAGE, 2019-07-01)
    Students from higher–socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds show a persistent advantage in academic outcomes over lower-SES students. It is possible that students’ beliefs about academic ability, or mindsets, play some role in contributing to these disparities. Data from a recent nationally representative sample of ninth-grade students in U.S. public schools provided evidence that higher SES was associated with fewer fixed beliefs about academic ability (a group difference of .22 standard deviations). Also, there was a negative association between a fixed mindset and grades that was similar regardless of a student’s SES. Finally, student mindsets were a significant but small factor in explaining the existing relationship between SES and achievement. Altogether, mindsets appear to be associated with socioeconomic circumstances and academic achievement; however, the vast majority of the existing socioeconomic achievement gap in the U.S. is likely driven by the root causes of inequality.
  • By Chance or by Plan?: The Academic Success of Nontraditional Students in Higher Education
    Wong, Billy (SAGE, 2018-06-05)
    In the United Kingdom, a “good” undergraduate degree is understood to be a “first class” or an “upper second class,” which is achieved by three-quarters of students. The need to distinguish oneself from others is ever more important in an increasingly crowded graduate market, although a first-class degree is most likely achieved by privileged students. Informed by Bourdieu’s theory of habitus and capital, this study explores the educational experiences and trajectories of 30 final-year high-achieving nontraditional (HANT) students through in-depth interviews. These include working-class, minority ethnic, and/or mature students at university. We found that prior development in academic study skills and the desire to prove oneself, often in response to previous negative experiences, are key ingredients in academic success. Our HANT students also seem to find inspiration or support from significant others, an educational capital, although these resources are often by chance rather than by plan. Implications for policy and practice are suggested.
  • Entry Characteristics and Participation in a Peer Learning Program as Predictors of First-Year Students’ Achievement, Retention, and Degree Completion
    Van der Meer, Jacques; Wass, Rob; Scott, Stephen (SAGE, 2017-09-19)
    Success in the first year of higher education is important for students’ retention beyond their first year and for completion of their undergraduate degree. Institutions therefore typically front-load resources and interventions in the first year. One such intervention is the Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) program. This program is known in the United States as Supplemental Instruction. It provides first-year students with an opportunity to learn study skills in the context of a particular unit of study (course/module). In this article, we consider the relationship between students’ prior academic achievement and participation in the PASS program, as well as the impact of participation on first-year students’ first-year grade point average, retention, and degree completion. The findings suggest that PASS does not just attract academically high-achieving students and that participation in it contributes to students’ academic achievement in their first year, retention beyond the first year, and completion of an undergraduate degree.
  • The Design of Clustered Observational Studies in Education
    Page, Lindsay C.; Lenard, Matthew A.; Keele, Luke (SAGE, 2020-09-09)
    Clustered observational studies (COSs) are a critical analytic tool for educational effectiveness research. We present a design framework for the development and critique of COSs. The framework is built on the counterfactual model for causal inference and promotes the concept of designing COSs that emulate the targeted randomized trial that would have been conducted were it feasible. We emphasize the key role of understanding the assignment mechanism to study design. We review methods for statistical adjustment and highlight a recently developed form of matching designed specifically for COSs. We review how regression models can be profitably combined with matching and note best practices for estimates of statistical uncertainty. Finally, we review how sensitivity analyses can determine whether conclusions are sensitive to bias from potential unobserved confounders. We demonstrate concepts with an evaluation of a summer school reading intervention in a large U.S. school district.
  • Discretion and Disproportionality: Explaining the Underrepresentation of High-Achieving Students of Color in Gifted Programs
    Grissom, Jason A.; Redding, Christopher (SAGE, 2016-01-18)
    Students of color are underrepresented in gifted programs relative to White students, but the reasons for this underrepresentation are poorly understood. We investigate the predictors of gifted assignment using nationally representative, longitudinal data on elementary students. We document that even among students with high standardized test scores, Black students are less likely to be assigned to gifted services in both math and reading, a pattern that persists when controlling for other background factors, such as health and socioeconomic status, and characteristics of classrooms and schools. We then investigate the role of teacher discretion, leveraging research from political science suggesting that clients of government services from traditionally underrepresented groups benefit from diversity in the providers of those services, including teachers. Even after conditioning on test scores and other factors, Black students indeed are referred to gifted programs, particularly in reading, at significantly lower rates when taught by non-Black teachers, a concerning result given the relatively low incidence of assignment to own-race teachers among Black students.
  • Understanding Loan Aversion in Education: Evidence from High School Seniors, Community College Students, and Adults
    Boatman, Angela; Evans, Brent J.; Soliz, Adela (SAGE, 2017-01-17)
    Although prior research has suggested that some students may be averse to taking out loans to finance their college education, there is little empirical evidence showing the extent to which loan aversion exists or how it affects different populations of students. This study provides the first large-scale quantitative evidence of levels of loan aversion in the United States. Using survey data collected on more than 6,000 individuals, we examine the frequency of loan aversion in three distinct populations. Depending on the measure, between 20 and 40% of high school seniors exhibit loan aversion with lower rates among community college students and adults not in college. Women are less likely to express loan-averse attitudes than men, and Hispanic respondents are more likely to be loan averse than White respondents.
  • Sign Me Up: The Factors Predicting Students’ Enrollment in an Early-Commitment Scholarship Program
    Goldhaber, Dan; Long, Mark C.; Person, Ann E.; Rooklyin, Jordan; Gratz, Trevor (SAGE, 2019-06-20)
    We investigate factors influencing student sign-ups for Washington State’s College Bound Scholarship program and consider whether there is scope for the program to change college enrollment expectations. We find that student characteristics associated with signing the scholarship pledge closely parallel characteristics of low-income students who attend 4-year colleges, suggesting that signing the pledge is driven largely by preexisting expectations of college going. We also find evidence that student sign-up rates are lower than have been previously reported, which is important given the perception among program administrators that nearly all eligible students sign up.
  • “Black Genius, Asian Fail”: The Detriment of Stereotype Lift and Stereotype Threat in High-Achieving Asian and Black STEM Students
    McGee, Ebony (SAGE, 2018-12-05)
    Asians are typically situated at the top of the STEM educational and career hierarchy and enjoy a host of material benefits as a result. Thus, their STEM lives are often considered problem-free. This article describes the role of race-based stereotypes in shaping the experiences of high-achieving Black and Asian STEM college students. Their experiences exposed the insidious presence of anti-Black and pro-Asian sentiment, operationalized through the frameworks of stereotype threat and stereotype lift. Stereotype threat and stereotype lift situate the racialized experiences of Black and Asian students as opposites, thereby ignoring their shared marginalization and responses to being stereotyped. I argue that both racial groups endure emotional distress because each group responds to its marginalization with an unrelenting motivation to succeed that imposes significant costs. I aim to demonstrate that Black and Asian college students are burdened with being stereotyped and judged unfairly, enduring sometimes debilitating consequences even while they are praised for fulfilling or defying stereotypes. Discussion includes coalition building among racial groups of color in STEM, serving in part to co-construct racialized psychosocial coping skills, and a strategy for more equitable material outcomes for Black STEMers.