Closing the Graduation Gap

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Out at Towson State we have excellent news! For black people!


The suburban Baltimore school joins Virginia's George Mason University on a list of 11 higher education institutions nationwide where graduation rates for minority students meet or exceed those of whites, according to an analysis by the Education Trust, a Washington-based think tank that focuses on racial and ethnic achievement gaps. 

It put Towson's graduation rate at 67 percent for white and black students and 70 percent for Hispanics. The report says the school has an overall graduation rate of 65 percent, higher than George Mason's 58 percent and the national rate of about 55 percent. (The overall rates include students who decline to identify themselves in a racial or ethnic group.)

Further down in the story there's some talk of methodology:

Fifteen years ago, as a way to boost graduation rates, school leaders decided to emphasize high school grades as the dominant factor in admitting students. Internal research had convinced them that students who entered Towson with high GPAs tended to graduate, regardless of SAT scores, and that students with high test scores but low grades were more likely to drop out. 

The strategy relied partly on the strength of Maryland's public schools. Towson draws hundreds of minority students from suburban school systems in Baltimore, Montgomery, Anne Arundel and Howard counties, all known for rigor and strong minority achievement. "We're getting high SATs and high GPAs from schools where high SATs and high GPAs mean something," Caret said.

That point on focusing on the GPA over high SATs is interesting. I was actually admitted to Towson, strictly on my SAT scores. (My GPA sucked.) In terms of admissions, I think the decision to switch to a more GPA-focused model is a good one.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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