High School Graduation Rates for Minority Students


Higher education has a problem, but it is not the fault of the already well-educated parents. Postsecondary graduation rates for their children are good. Under-represented minorities and children from low-income homes are at the heart of the issue. They want to go to college, yet they are typically unprepared and fail to graduate (Owolabi, 2018). Forty-five percent of all postsecondary students enrolled in community colleges serve the most significant number of low-income students. However, only about a third of those students graduate with a certificate or degree after six years. Conferring to the Educational Statistics National Center, college graduation rates were 13% in 2012 for students from low-income homes compared to 60% for students from households with better socioeconomic standing (Lezama, 2019). In 2015, students in the top two quartiles gained 77% of bachelor’s degrees, while students acquired only 20% in the worst quartile (Davis, 2012). Only 26% of first-time, full-time students from for-profit four-year universities graduated, compared to 32% at open-admission four-year colleges and 88% at the most competitive four-year institutions (Trottier et al., 2021). Most low-income students attend non-competitive institutions, but few attend competitive non-profit universities. Students from low-income and minority backgrounds have a high dropout rate, lack learning resources, and are likely to miss graduation, unlike those from high-income families. This paper will discuss the aspect of low graduation rates for students from low-income and minority backgrounds and ways to solve this problem.

Students from low-income and minority backgrounds are less likely than those from high-income backgrounds to complete high school, even though graduation rates nationwide have gone up. Students from specific origins or with certain features have a higher likelihood of quitting school than others. Minority and low-income pupils have a lower likelihood of finishing high school compared to their counterparts. The 2006-07 school years graduation rate in Indiana was 76%. Graduation rates were lowest in low-income urban and rural communities (Trottier et al., 2021). According to studies, African-Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans had graduation rates below the national average of 70%, compared to 80% for Caucasians (Pittman et al., 2020). The gap in graduation rates between students from different socioeconomic and demographic backgrounds is also evident at the national level. According to the National Dropout Prevention Center (NDPC), 70% of American high school seniors had their graduation from your in 2001. More than 70% of Caucasian and Asian students graduated from high school in 2001 (Trottier et al., 2021). In contrast, following the National Center for Education Statistics, just 54% of Native American and 52% of African American students did so.

Minority kids’ educational experiences have remained mostly distinct and unequal. As a result, more than two-thirds of minorities still attend predominantly minority schools, most of which are situated in urban areas and underfunded in comparison to their suburban counterparts. Many urban school districts provide lower resources to schools with large low-income and minority pupil populations (Pittman et al., 2020). Monitoring technologies further worsen the segregation of many minority and low-income pupils inside schools. With such practices, minority children are given lesser-quality books, curricular materials, computers and labs; bigger class sizes; fewer skilled and experienced instructors; and reduced access to high-quality education. Many schools serve low-income and minority children that do not even offer the basic science and math courses required for graduation from a four-year university.

Similarly, pupils do better when they attend small, well-known schools, have lower class sizes (particularly at the primary level), and get a rigorous curriculum from well-skilled instructors. Students of color have a lesser likelihood than their white counterparts to access these tools (Pittman et al., 2020). Compared to predominantly white schools, which are on average, twice as extensive, the majority of students of color attend predominantly minority schools, where class sizes are 15% bigger overall.

Students from lower socioeconomic status (SECs) are often cited as having a difficult time in college because of various factors, including working full time while attending school and being underprepared due to public schools that are underfunded. However, one significant yet underappreciated factor is at play (Pittman et al., 2020). Low-income Americans have long been stigmatized in the United States. As a result, many people think that those who earn low wages are less intelligent and capable than those who earn more (Owolabi, 2018). Even kids from low-income families may fall prey to this misconception since it is widely accepted. This impact was magnified when social class was brought into the equation, and people from social classes that are higher judged themselves much more intelligent than those from social classes that are lower. This shows that poverty has become a part of people’s identities. It might not be apparent to all individuals, but the theory of stereotype threat suggests that kids on the receiving end of this stigma may experience significant negative repercussions.

Students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds face a unique challenge at today’s higher education institutions, as expectations mirror those in the middle and upper classes. For example, previous research shows that students of lower socioeconomic status were more susceptible to stereotype threats after their societal class was made prominent but functioned just as well as higher socioeconomic status students the tie when their social class was not outstanding (Owolabi, 2018). Even the most brilliant students nowadays may find it difficult to continue their studies in college as they become increasingly aware of the disparities in socioeconomic status (SES) between themselves and their more advantaged classmates. Fear of confirming the lower intellect stereotype may (paradoxically) be a motivating factor for inferior performance for these kids.

Leaders must be prepared to confront a difficult decision between making investments in kids from low-income homes and preparing them to pursue societal standing. Both the economic destiny of the country and the future of low-income kids and their families hang in the balance of these choices. Formerly high-school diploma-required positions are now college degree-required. However, just 14% of learners from low-income homes complete their bachelor’s degree in college (Lezama, 2019). By 2025, we’ll be short 11 million college graduates, making it impossible to stay economically competitive if we target kids from the middle class. To assist more low-income students in graduating from college, colleges should do all they can to support them. In the past, institutions have not been rewarded for taking this step because of the incentives.

Using Georgia State University as an example, this claim may be made and may indicate a positive movement in rankings. Georgia State University has worked hard over the last decade to assist students from underrepresented groups in getting a bachelor’s degree. Some of the top low-income pupils were not merely chosen by chance. Rather than that, they enhanced their advising and other help for students who could graduate but far too often failed to do so. By eliminating financial and racial disparities in the rates of graduation, they also increased the total rate of graduation rate by 23 percentage points (Lezama, 2019). In the world of higher education, this is nearly uncommon.

Transparency is essential if teachers are to improve educational results for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. In today’s society, outcomes for low-income pupils are mainly obscured. It is common practice in the US to utilize Pell Grants to represent low poverty (Lezama, 2019). Still, statistics on how many students get them and how many go on to graduate are not easily accessible. Even though many colleges do not release their Pell graduation rates, it is hard to determine how well these schools perform.

In addition to individual poverty, the plight of the whole community is critical. Disadvantaged communities are common, especially in areas with a high concentration of African-American residents. These areas are plagued by a lack of stability for residents’ families, poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, and crime (Lezama, 2019). Playgrounds and recreation areas, after-school programs, and negative peer influences all contribute to the development of children and adolescents in disadvantaged communities. For example, students who live in low-income societies have a higher likelihood of being friends with students who have dropped out of school, which increases their chances of dropping out of school.

Assumptions of the Topic

People assume that low-income minority kids are not prepared for college because of their graduation rates. Though college graduation rates have risen, many students (especially those from low-income and minority backgrounds) are unprepared. Estimates of the number of high school pupils who are not ready for college and career-wise vary considerably between studies. According to one research, just 32% of pupils make to graduate from high school in preparation for joining college (Lezama, 2019). The ACT College Preparation Benchmark measures a student’s readiness for college based on various factors, including subject, race, state, and family income (ACT 2007).

More than half of institutions require at least one remedial course for low-income students. College remedial programs had almost 460,000 students enrolled in 2014/15. More than half of low-income kids and 60 percent of students of color in Massachusetts’ best schools take at least one remedial course (Leggett & Harrington, 2021). High school curricula typically do not match college standards, which is a common concern. In the past, high school graduates were able to get respectable employment and did not want to go to college. Many individuals believe that poverty, ethnicity, and academic ability are linked. There is a widely held perception that students from disadvantaged families have a higher likelihood of failing.

The “toxic stresses” that come with poverty in the family include high homelessness and homelessness, food and hunger insecurity, absent parents, drug misuse, domestic violence, and other issues. Previous researchers propose an eco-bio-developmental framework to explain how toxic stress in early life affects learning (linguistic, cognitive, and socio-emotional abilities), behavior, and health (Leggett & Harrington, 2021). They draw on various medical, biological, and social science domains. Low performance, persistent absenteeism, disobedience, and various tactics, attitudes, and behaviors associated with school success — commonly called “non-cognitive” abilities — are all potential antecedents to dropping out.

The dropout epidemic is worsened by poverty in schools and communities and in the families of those who drop out. Schools in the United States are notoriously divided based on socioeconomic status, race, and ethnicity. There was 9 percent of all secondary students in high-poverty schools in 2009-2010, but for Blacks and Hispanics, the figure was 21 percent, compared to 2 percent for Whites and 7 percent for Asian kids (Leggett & Harrington, 2021). Famous sociologist James Coleman found that pupils’ academic performance was more closely linked to their peers’ qualities than any other school attribute more than 40 years ago. It has been discovered that the racial/ethnic and social class mix of schools is more essential in explaining educational results than a student’s race, ethnicity, and social class.


As a method to improve the graduation rates of students from low-income families, schools and institutions should work on identifying and reducing the stereotype threat of SES on their campuses. In the first place, measures that ensure that learners from all socioeconomic backgrounds have equitable access to educational opportunities may reduce the importance of SES. By obscuring this kind of stereotype, kids can better interact with people from various socioeconomic backgrounds, making it more difficult for them to determine who their classmates are and enabling them to share more shared experiences (Lavy & Ayuob, 2019). Educational institutions must do all they can to dispel the myth that people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are unable to study and succeed. Simply hosting campus forums to address issues of bias and stereotypes, including those based on socioeconomic status, or designing posters and flyers with messages defying prejudices might accomplish this goal rather well.

It has been shown that merely being conscious of the stereotype threat may help individuals rise above its harmful consequences, as previous researchers revealed. Therefore, it is essential to educate students about stereotype threats (in freshman orientation events) to know its repercussions yet not succumb to them (Lavy & Ayuob, 2019). Stereotype danger may be mitigated if people have the opportunity to either perceive themselves as individuals instead of members of a defamed group or to encourage good traits of themselves in the face of threat (affirmative self-categorization).

These results need a large-scale public awareness campaign and intervention efforts. Professors might gain from offering training in stereotype danger and its connection to societal status. As a result, teachers and mentors should help students understand their strengths and use them when struggling with academic work (Lavy & Ayuob, 2019). Stereotype danger may be alleviated by including knowledge about the threat besides how to counteract it in the overall curriculum of education. However, ignoring and preserving the stigma of this danger at the institutional level results in a lot of wasted perspective among lower SES people throughout the country. People throughout the world must find out where low-income children are getting the most out of their education. Instead of praising or shaming, the idea should be to find out what is working and then copy it. Publicizing data on how many and what proportion of low-income pupils graduate from high school is good. Colleges already have this information, but they do not make it available to the public.

What the country needs more of should be highlighted and rewarded via national rankings. Rankings may, for example, highlight colleges that enroll and graduate (in around after four to six years) with the most and the most low-income students (Kelly, 2021). Alternatively, they may focus on institutions where the achievement gap between low-income learners and the rest of the student body is the narrowest. Ranking groups are progressively considering graduation rates, Pell rates, and student happiness, so there is a lot of possibility for optimism here. Instead of rewarding exclusivity, colleges should ensure that recognition for their work with low-income students is given to the whole student body. However, they only have a tiny number of pupils on their rolls. A policy change is not necessary to implement transparency.

State and federal governments should urge universities to disclose the differences in student retention and graduation rates across students of different socioeconomic backgrounds in their respective states and countries. This would incentivize institutions to fill in the gaps in their data by putting it in the hands of parents, legislators, academics, and journalists, who would be able to use it to make informed decisions (Kelly, 2021). Data exchange is essential to uncover the discrepancies in the success rates in college amongst high and low-income students. Institutions’ efforts of trying to make a distinction for low-income learners would be less risky. It is time to quantify what counts if we want to generate graduates from the college. America requires and provides all kids a chance at a brighter economic future.

When there are not many minority students in a student population, it might be difficult for them to feel included. Implementing a diversity program is not always possible if the institution lacks the funds to do so. One way to increase the diversity of the student body is to use a need-blind admissions procedure, a strategy that has been successful at Vassar University. Reduced-income and minority candidates may have a better chance of admission if the school does not use federal Pell Grant funding criteria to determine how many students it accepts without taking socioeconomic status into account (Kelly, 2021). As the number of minority students at a college or university grows, additional minority students will regard the institution as one that values diversity.

Students who have access to on-campus assistance are more likely to stay in school. Free tutoring, work-study options, and financial help are all part of this. Getting a scholarship is something that many students put off until later in their academic careers (Heilig, 2011). Furthermore, educational institutions should take this into account when providing financial help. Retention rates may rise if lower-income students get additional financial support as they advance through school.

By assisting students in securing financial aid, we reduce the likelihood that they would be forced to work long hours to make ends meet. Students enrolled full-time in college and working between 10 and 15 hours a week are often advised to follow this advice. Students on a tight budget, on the other hand, may not have the luxury. As the number of hours needed grows, the amount of time available for education decreases. Changing from studying on a full-time basis to part-time basis significantly impacts a student’s graduation prospects. Minority and low-income students will be disproportionately impacted by the lack of opportunities at colleges and institutions that do not support the students they accept (Talbert, 2012). However, focusing on these individuals’ unique requirements makes it possible to enhance graduation rates considerably.

During and after admissions, educational institutions must level the playing field. Universities may experience a significant increase in graduation rates if they remove the financial component from admissions and provide additional assistance for low-income and minority students (Clark Jr, 2021). In addition, if a reputation for offering assistance is established, the degree of diversity in candidates will grow, helping to satisfy any diversity objectives. In the long run, this benefits both students and the university, which many people see as the optimal conclusion.


Clark Jr, R. D. (2021). Raising the Bar: Institutional Action to Address College Graduation Rates for Students of Color from Low Socioeconomic Backgrounds (Doctoral dissertation, Mercer University).

Heilig, J. V. (2011). As good as advertised? Tracking urban student progress through high school in an environment of accountability. American Secondary Education, 17-41.

Kelly, S. F. (2021). High School Dropout: The Minority Perspective on the Influence of Community Forces (Doctoral dissertation, Northeastern University).

Lavy, S., & Ayuob, W. (2019). Teachers’ sense of meaning associations with teacher performance and graduates’ resilience: a study of schools serving students of low socio-economic status. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 823.

Leggett, G., & Harrington, I. (2021). The impact of Project Based Learning (PBL) on students from low socio-economic statuses: a review. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 25(11), 1270-1286.

Lezama, L. (2019). Structural Racism’s Effect on Education Today: Does School Choice Improve High School Graduation Rates in Formerly Redlined Communities? (Doctoral dissertation, California State University, Northridge).

Owolabi, E. (2018). Improving student retention, engagement and belonging. Lutheran Education Journal, 148, 58-72.

Pittman, R. T., Zhang, S., Binks‐Cantrell, E., Hudson, A., & Joshi, R. M. (2020). Teachers’ knowledge about language constructs related to literacy skills and student achievement in low socio‐economic status schools. Dyslexia, 26(2), 200-219.

Talbert, P. Y. (2012). Strategies to Increase Enrollment, Retention, and Graduation Rates. Journal of Developmental Education, 36(1), 22.

Trottier, M. I. C. H. E. L. L. E. (2021). Participation in career development communities of practice: Perspectives from low socio-economic background students.

Cite this paper

Select style


ChalkyPapers. (2023, March 20). High School Graduation Rates for Minority Students. Retrieved from https://chalkypapers.com/high-school-graduation-rates-for-minority-students/


ChalkyPapers. (2023, March 20). High School Graduation Rates for Minority Students. https://chalkypapers.com/high-school-graduation-rates-for-minority-students/

Work Cited

"High School Graduation Rates for Minority Students." ChalkyPapers, 20 Mar. 2023, chalkypapers.com/high-school-graduation-rates-for-minority-students/.


ChalkyPapers. (2023) 'High School Graduation Rates for Minority Students'. 20 March.


ChalkyPapers. 2023. "High School Graduation Rates for Minority Students." March 20, 2023. https://chalkypapers.com/high-school-graduation-rates-for-minority-students/.

1. ChalkyPapers. "High School Graduation Rates for Minority Students." March 20, 2023. https://chalkypapers.com/high-school-graduation-rates-for-minority-students/.


ChalkyPapers. "High School Graduation Rates for Minority Students." March 20, 2023. https://chalkypapers.com/high-school-graduation-rates-for-minority-students/.