The Case for Educational Access 

Despite efforts to improve educational access opportunities for underrepresented students in our country, obstacles to accessing quality education not only remain, but they continue to grow. NPEA and its member organizations are committed to changing the landscape and making high quality educational opportunities accessible to all students.

Through goals such as sharing emerging practices, providing professional development and opportunities to collaborate, addressing policy initiatives, collecting and sharing data and releasing white papers on relevant topics, NPEA hopes to not only define the case for educational access, but also to help suggest solutions. NPEA is committed to sharing information about educational access with a variety of audiences who can help address this challenge: programs, families and students, independent schools, college and universities, researchers, funders, policy-makers, and businesses.

Fulfilling the mission of improving educational access for underrepresented students requires an understanding of existing research, data, and education policies. To that end, we recognize that: 1) Diversity Matters, 2) Data Matters; and 3) Policy Matters, and will provide information in these areas.

Diversity Matters/Data Matters

Our country is facing a growing achievement gap in educational performance that is related to race and ethnicity and socioeconomic status.  For example, research shows that African-American and Hispanic students are not performing as well in school as their White counterparts, nor (oftentimes) are they receiving the same educational advantages as non-minority students.

The demographics in our country are continuing to change. According to a report by the U.S. Census Bureau on population trends, “the aggregate minority population increased by 88% between 1980 and 2000, while the White non-Hispanic population increased by only 7.9 percent in that twenty year period.” In addition, in 2000, the percentage of the minority population ranged from 16 percent for people age 65 and over 39 percent for those under age 25. These trends of minority population growth are continuing in the U.S.  Demographic statistics are critical to our understanding of how to better address the need for educational access for underrepresented students.

A Few Facts

  • “Only 12% of African-American 4th graders reach advanced or proficient levels in reading; 61% have not even been taught basic levels. Math is even worse: only 7% of 8th graders reach the proficient level or above on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.” Source: The Education Trust, 2003.
  • “By the end of high school, the research shows that African-American students have the same math and reading skills as those of 8th grade White students. Beyond high school, the impact continues. African-American college enrollment rates have increased in the past 20 years, but college completion rates have not kept pace. African-American college freshmen graduate from college at a much lower rate (41% as compared to 61%).” Source: The Education Trust, 2003.
  • “57% of Latino 4th graders do not have even the basic level of reading skills, and only 9% have achieved the proficient level of math. By the end of high school, Latino math and reading skills are equal to those of White middle school students. Beyond high school, Latino college enrollment and completion rates are low. Neither college enrollment nor completion has increased for Latino students in the past 20 years. If the trends continue, only 11 out of every 100 Latino students will complete college.” Source: The Education Trust, 2003.
  • For every 100 Hispanic, African-American or White U.S. kindergartners, only 22 White students will graduate from college, compared with 18 African-American students and 11 Hispanic students. Source: The Education Trust, 2003.