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Completion Rate Gaps by Gender for Black Californians

September 2, 2021
 
 

While more Black students in California are earning college degrees, concerning equity gaps in graduation rates remain, with differences based on gender, according to a new report by the California-based Campaign for College Opportunity.

The report, released Wednesday, follows an earlier report in February 2021 and examines college completion rates for Black men and women in the state’s three public higher education systems: California Community Colleges, California State University and the University of California.

Some hopeful findings emerged from the report. The four-year graduation rate for Black women who started in the CSU system as freshmen more than doubled from 2011 to 2016, from 10 percent to 24 percent, and more than half of Black women who enrolled as freshmen graduated within six years. However, more Black women transferred to for-profit colleges than the CSU and UC systems combined, which is a worrisome trend given the low graduation and high student debt rates of people who attend for-profit institutions.

The four-year graduation rate also doubled for Black men who entered the CSU system as freshmen, from 7 percent to 14 percent, over the same period. About 73 percent of Black men and 81 percent of Black women who started in the UC system as freshmen finished their degrees within six years. More than two-thirds of Black transfer students to the CSU system and more than 80 percent of Black transfer students to the UC system graduated within four years.

The report also found worrisome racial and gender disparities. Only 8 percent of Black men and 10 percent of Black women who started at California Community Colleges in the 2016-17 academic year completed their studies within four years.

Only 39 percent of Black women who transferred into the CSU system graduated within two years -- relative to 30 percent of Black men -- but that rate is 13 percentage points lower than that of white women. The four-year graduation rate for Black men in the UC system, 50 percent, was 20 percentage points below their white counterparts, while the graduation rate for Black women, 65 percent, was 14 percentage points lower than white women’s.

“While we celebrate the improvements in high school graduation and college preparation occurring statewide, we know much more needs to be done to ensure equity in opportunity and success in our public colleges and universities for Black undergraduates,” the report states.

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