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THE EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE OF YOUNG MEN OF COLOR: Minority Males Lag Behind in High School and Beyond, According to College Board Report

“At a time when our nation is committed to reclaiming its place as the leader in higher education, we can no longer afford to ignore the plight of young men of color."

Nearly half of young men of color aged fifteen to twenty-four who earn their high school diploma will end up unemployed, incarcerated, or dead, according to a new report from the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center. The study also finds that minority men fall behind their peers in educational attainment and many fail to attend college or earn a postsecondary degree. The report, The Educational Experience of Young Men of Color: A Review of Research, Pathways and Progress, provides an in-depth analysis of educational attainment and achievement data for minority males including African Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Hispanics/Latinos, and Native Americans and Alaska Natives.

“At a time when our nation is committed to reclaiming its place as the leader in higher education, we can no longer afford to ignore the plight of young men of color,” said Gaston Caperton, president of the College Board. “As long as educational opportunities are limited for some, we all suffer. We rise as one nation and we fall as one nation. But if we keep working hard—if we keep listening to each other and to our students—we can soften our landings and reach historic new heights.”

According to the report, just 26 percent of African Americans, 24 percent of Native Americans and Pacific Islanders, and 18 percent of Hispanic Americans have at least an associate degree. In each of these racial and ethnic groups, young women outperform young men in earning high school diplomas and the disparity is even more significant at the postsecondary level. The report shows that across all ethnic groups, as compared to their female peers, men are more likely to drop out of high school and less likely to gain access to and complete college.

The report cautions that the framing around the discussion of academic achievement of minorities often leaves little opportunity to recognize and discuss the disparities within one minority group. For example, although Asian Americans are commonly cited as the highest-performing group on a variety of academic measures, educational outcomes among Asian Americans differ greatly when examining socioeconomic status, immigration status, and gender.

In addition to academic achievement, the report examines other factors and finds that more than 51 percent of Hispanic males, 45 percent of African American males, 42 percent of Native American males, and 33 percent of Asian American males aged fifteen to twenty-four will end up unemployed, incarcerated, or dead. In 2008, large proportions of minority men aged fifteen to twenty-four with high school diplomas were unemployed—34 percent of black men, 47 percent of Latinos, 39 percent of Native Americans, and 30 percent of Asian Americans.

The Educational Experience of Young Men of Color provides the following recommendations to address the educational problems experienced by many young men of color:

  • Make improving outcomes for young men of color a national priority.
  • Increase community, business, and school partnerships to provide mentoring and support to young men of color.
  • Reform education to ensure that all students, including young men of color, are college and career ready when they graduate from high school.
  • Improve teacher education programs and provide professional development that includes cultural- and gender-responsive training.
  • Create culturally appropriate persistence and retention programs that provide wraparound services to increase college completion for men of color.
  • Produce more research and conduct more studies that strengthen the understanding of the challenges faced by males of color and provide evidence-based solutions to these challenges.

Download the full report at

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