Numerous studies, including those of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), have documented persistent gaps between the educational attainment of White males and that of Black, Hispanic, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander males. Further, there is evidence of growing gaps by sex within these racial/ethnic groups, as females participate and persist in education at higher rates than their male counterparts (Aud, Fox, and KewalRamani 2010; Aud et al. 2011). In the interest of formulating policies to address these gaps, Congress directed the U.S. Department of Education to produce a report documenting the gaps in access to and completion of higher education by minority males and to outline specific policies that can help address these gaps (Higher Education Opportunity Act, H.R. 4137, 110th Cong. §1109, 2008). NCES was directed to produce the Higher Education: Gaps in Access and Persistence Study, a statistical report that documents the scope and nature of the gaps by sex and by race/ethnicity.
The primary focus of the Higher Education: Gaps in Access and Persistence Study is to examine gaps in educational participation and attainment between male Blacks, Hispanics, Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders, and American Indians/Alaska Natives and their female counterparts and to examine gaps between males in these racial/ethnic groups and White males. The secondary focus of the report is to examine overall sex and racial/ethnic differences. In addition to these descriptive indicators, this report also includes descriptive multivariate analyses of variables that are associated with male and female postsecondary attendance and attainment.
Postsecondary attendance rates are generally lower for youth from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and those from various racial/ethnic groups (e.g., Blacks and Hispanics) when compared to Whites and Asians (Aud et al. 2011). In 2010, as in every year since 1980, a lower percentage of male than female 18- to 24-year-olds were enrolled either in college or graduate school (39 vs. 47 percent). This pattern was also observed for Whites (43 vs. 51 percent), Blacks (31 vs. 43 percent), Hispanics (26 vs. 36 percent), American Indians (24 vs. 33 percent), and persons of two or more races (40 vs. 49 percent). In addition to college enrollment differences, there are gaps in postsecondary attainment for males and females. For instance, among first-time students seeking bachelor's degrees who started full time at a 4-year college in 2004, a higher percentage of females than males completed bachelor's degrees within 6 years (61 vs. 56 percent)—a pattern that held across all racial/ethnic groups.
This report will document the scope and nature of a number of differences between sex and racial/ethnic groups in education preparation and achievement as well as differences in postsecondary access, persistence, and attainment between males and females within and across racial/ethnic groups. The report presents indicators that include the most recently available, nationally representative data from NCES, other federal agencies, and selected items from the ACT and the College Board. The report draws on multiple sources that represent different years and different populations.