I’ve written before (here, here, and here, for example) about how even accurate statistics about minority graduation rates can be misleading. I don’t like repeating myself (well, maybe I do, but I generally try to avoid doing so), but since the same old statistics continue to be touted I feel justified now in doing so.
The touting at issue concerns the fact that the University of Virginia boasts (literally) of having the highest minority graduation rate of any public university, at around 87%, which is also even higher than at several Ivy League institutions. This accomplishment has been confirmed again, and so the touting has been published again.
For the 12th straight year, U.Va. has posted the highest graduation rate for African-American students among major public institutions, according to an annual survey published in March by the Journal of Blacks in Higher
Data published in the journal show that the six-year graduation rate for African-American students who entered U.Va. in the fall of 1998 is 86 percent.
U.Va. is the only public institution in the top 20 of all colleges and universities and is the leader among flagship state universities, according to the journal, which used statistics compiled by the NCAA.
The next-highest rates among the flagship universities were 70 percent at the University of California at Berkeley and the University of New Hampshire, 69 percent at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and 67 percent at the University of Michigan.
First, let me say, again, that graduating the highest percentage of minorities of any major public university (and higher than many private ones as well) is indeed a real accomplishment. It is one of which both The University and its minority graduates can be proud. And let me also say (I don’t think I said this before), that the 67% rate at the University of Michigan is disgusting. UM spent untold thousands of dollars in its successful effort to defend the right to discriminate on the basis of race, but it obviously lacks the interest, will, or ability to see to it that the minority students for whom it lowered the admissions bar actually get an education and graduate. Those short-changed students are no more than emblems of UM’s liberalism, easily discarded once they have served their purpose of jacking up the “diversity” numbers.
Returning to UVa’s accomplishment, however, let me point out a less rosy look at its numbers, quoting now from one of my earlier posts:
… taking UVa’s most recent data … , 13% of the blacks who entered in 1998 failed to graduate in six years, compared to 6% of the whites and 6% of the Asians. Put another, less optimistic way, blacks failed to graduate at a rate over twice as high as whites and Asians.
And now let me add a couple of points I did not make in my earlier posts. I’ve just found these numbers that break down UVA’a 87% minority graduation rate in a fascinating manner. Of those students who entered UVa in the fall of 1997, 92% of the black females but only 78% of the black males had graduated after six years. (Among whites, six year graduation rate was 95% for females and 91% for males, or a total of 93%, and the numbers for Asians were virtually the same.) It would be interesting to know to what degree the graduation rate for black males was substantially lower because of athletes not graduating.
And finally, here’s one other matter I did not discuss earlier, because the New York Times article from which it is taken was just published. [Note: If you do not subscribe to the fee-based New York Times Select, you can find the text of this article here.] In discussing the graduation rate report published in the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, the Times reports:
Bruce Slater, managing editor of the journal, said the University of Virginia’s success in graduating blacks was a result of the financial assistance the institution gives its lowest-income students. In 2004, the university began giving grants instead of loans for certain low-income students and increasing grants for middle-income students.
“The fact that they don’t have to worry about money definitely contributes to the higher graduation rate,” Mr. Slater said, referring to black students
Does “certain low-income students” mean black low-income students? If so, The University may once again be skirting close to a Podberesky problem.