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June 3, 2003

Study finds transfer gap for high-minority colleges

full study

A new study by researchers at California State University, Sacramento has found lower transfer rates to four-year universities from California’s community colleges with more black and Latino students.

The study says differences in socioeconomic status and academic preparation alone don’t account for the disparity. It says factors related to social or organizational culture and other barriers may be at play, and suggests the state study policy changes to address the issue.

“This is not only important for the people of color that it directly impacts, but also for the long-term economic vitality of the state as it becomes increasingly Latino,” says CSUS public policy professor Robert Wassmer, one of the report’s authors.

The study was co-sponsored by the California State Senate and the Institute for Higher Education Leadership & Policy at CSUS, and is titled “A Quantitative Study of California Community College Transfer Rates: Policy Implications and a Future Research Agenda.” It was produced by Wassmer; the Institute’s director, Nancy Shulock; and Institute researcher Colleen Moore.

The study looked only at students who intended to pursue bachelor’s degrees. It found a 10 percent increase in Latino students at a community college led to a 1 percent decrease in transfer rates, and a 10 percent increase in black students led to a 0.5 decrease in transfer rates.

In addition to its findings on Latino and black students, the study found community colleges with higher percentages of Asian Americans and those in urban areas have higher transfer rates. Those with more women, meanwhile, showed lower transfer rates.

“We hope this study illustrates the importance of identifying trends in education, and the reasons for them, to better understand why some groups aren’t succeeding as well as others under current policies,” Shulock says.

The study cited previous research in suggesting the reasons for the disparities might be that black and Latino students are more likely to attend college part time, work more, have more family obligations, and have limited access to information about college opportunities.

The full report, which includes each community college’s transfer rate, is available online at www.csus.edu/ihe by clicking “Institute Publications.”

More information is available by contacting Nancy Shulock at (916) 278-7249 or nshulock@csus.edu, or Robert Wassmer (916) 278-6304 or rwassme@csus.edu. Media assistance is available by contacting CSUS public affairs at (916) 278-6156.



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