Excelencia in Education (www.edexcelencia.org) has released “Latino College Completion in 50 States,” a report highlighting state-by-state data regarding educational inequities faced by Latino students enrolled in colleges across the nation. The report reveals that Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC) and Jefferson Community and Technical College lead Kentucky in graduating Latino students at the associate’s degree level. The University of Louisville leads the Commonwealth in awarding bachelor’s degrees to this burgeoning student population. All Kentucky colleges and universities saw significant enrollment increases due in part to efforts to support Latino student college access and completion. “Latino College Completion in 50 States” highlights the Latino Outreach Office at BCTC as an “Example of Excelencia,” a data-driven program with documented success in accelerating Latino student college completion.
“We hope this report will encourage education leaders and institutions at all levels to examine their role in student success,” said Erin Howard, project director of K’LEA and BCTC Latino Outreach. “The fact sheet is encouraging. However, because Kentucky’s Latino population is still very young, the biggest gains in high school graduation rates and college enrollment numbers are yet to come. Now is the time for educational leaders and institutions to proactively improve and increase efforts to strengthen Latino student success. Kentucky has the unique opportunity to prepare our institutions to support 21st century college students who are likely to be first generation college students, students of color and low-income.”
In 2011, BCTC received a grant from the Lumina Foundation to increase collaboration to support Latino student success. Partnering with more than 20 organizations including the Council on Postsecondary Education, BCTC Latino Outreach created the Kentucky Latino Education Alliance. K’LEA efforts focus on advocating for Latino student success by improving policy and developing data-driven programs for increased college preparation and retention rates. K’LEA initiatives include preparing and coaching families and students for college success, developing and supporting student engagement with professional organizations and networks, formalizing and strengthening transitions and transfers, and impacting institutional and agency policies and procedures to improve access and retention.
Currently, only 17 percent of Latino adults ages 25-64 residing in Kentucky have an associate’s degree or higher. While Kentucky’s Latino population is still small in comparison to many other states, the number of Latino students enrolled in public school increased from 15,009 to 28,372 students from 2006 to 2011, up 89 percent in only six years. Higher education has also seen significant growth. In fall 2007, 2,247 Latino students enrolled in Kentucky’s postsecondary institutions. In 2011, 4,466 Latino students were enrolled, an increase of 99 percent in five years. Extensive data reviews provided by the Kentucky Center for Educational and Workforce Statistics show that Latino students are more likely to need remediation once enrolled in college, are less likely to enroll in college after graduating from high school, are less likely to apply for financial aid, and are less likely to complete college on time. While institutions across the state are experiencing increases in enrollment, a significant equity gap still remains in college retention and completion. The “Latino College Completion in 50 States” report recommends that Kentucky institutions and educational leaders must work together to close the equity gap in college completion, increase the number of degrees conferred, and scale up programs and initiatives that work for Latino and other students.
For more information on the data report and K’LEA efforts visit http://kylatinosgraduate.org.