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Letter from the Commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics

August 2012

Numerous studies 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 gender gaps within these racial/ethnic groups, as females participate and persist in education at higher rates than their male counterparts. In the interest of formulating policies to address these gaps, Congress has 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). Within the U.S Department of Education, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) was given the responsibility
for responding to the component of the mandate related to producing a report that documents gaps in access to and completion of higher education.

The NCES report Higher Education: Gaps in Access and Persistence Study presents 46 indicators of important developments and trends in the education of males and females within and across specific racial/ethnic groups. These indicators focus on student demographics, school characteristics, student behaviors and after school activities, academic preparation and achievement, students’ college knowledge, postsecondary education, and postsecondary outcomes and employment. In the chapters that follow, we use the most recent data available to explore the educational achievements and challenges of males and females, noting where the groups are similar and where they differ.

The primary focus of the Higher Education: Gaps in Access and Persistence Study is to examine differences between males and females overall and within racial/ethnic groups. The racial/ethnic groups of interest include Blacks, Hispanics, Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders, and American Indians/Alaska Natives. The secondary focus of the report is to examine overall sex and racial/ethnic differences. In addition to the indicators, this report also includes descriptive multivariate analyses of variables that may influence male and female postsecondary attendance and attainment in different ways.

Jack Buckley
National Center for Education Statistics