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Report: Native students falling out of pipeline
Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Only 14 percent of Native American high school students are prepared to enter college, a study being released today by a conservative policy research group claims.

Using data from the Department of Education, the Manhattan Institute estimated the college readiness rates for public high school students of all racial and ethnic backgrounds. Based on three criteria -- graduation rates, student transcripts and reading level -- researchers found that Native students were falling behind the rest of the country.

"[O]ur screens are specifically intended to measure the job that public schools do in making students college-ready - that is, the movement of students through the public school 'pipeline,'" study authors Jay P. Greene and Greg Forster wrote.

The study isn't exactly a ringing endorsement of the achievements of any one group. College readiness rates for White, African-American, Asian and Hispanic students were 37 percent and lower, with the national average being 32 percent, according to the statistics.

Likewise, the graduation rates cited in the report might come as a surprise to some. The researchers came up with new estimates by comparing the number of students who drop out -- or "leak" from the pipeline -- and the number who actually graduate.

In some cases, the estimates are vastly different than what the states report. Texas, for example, says its graduate rate is 81 percent but the researchers say it is 67 percent.

This methodology produced a 54 percent graduation rate for Native students, lower than that of Whites (72 percent) and Asians (79 percent), and only slightly higher than African-American (52 percent) and Hispanic (51 percent) students.

The report ranks states by high school graduation rate for Indian students, although data was missing or insufficient in 30 states and the District of Columbia. Oklahoma was first, at 72 percent, followed by California, at 64 percent. Oklahoma has the second highest percentage of American Indians, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, while California has the largest number of Indians.

The rest of the top 10 was as follows: Illinois (64 percent), New York (63 percent), New Mexico (62 percent), Utah (62 percent), Texas (61 percent), Michigan (56 percent), Nevada (55 percent) and Louisiana (54 percent).

Other states of note include: Montana (53 percent), Alaska (50 percent), North Dakota (50 percent), Washington (48 percent), Oregon (47 percent), Nebraska (40 percent) and Wyoming (40 percent). These states rank among the highest in percentage of Natives, according to the Census.

According to the Department of Education, about 500,000 Indian students of all grades attend public schools. Of that number, about 50,000 are in the Bureau of Indian Affairs system.

Get the Report:
Public High School Graduation and College Readiness Rates in the United States (September 2003)

Related Stories:
Native students show gains on college test (08/27)
Nation's report card shows progress for Native students (07/11)
Report card shows Native students falling behind (06/23)
Paige advancing Indian issues at Ed. Dept. (6/16)
Tribal-federal effort targets Indian education (11/15)
Native students show gains on college test (08/28)

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