Narrowing The Equity Gap At Higher Ed Institutions
Jul 25th 2022 | Posted by W. Ayers

Narrowing The Equity Gap At Higher Ed Institutions

Recently, a new report was released that uncovered equity gaps in graduation rates among a number of 2-year and 4-year higher education institutions across the country.

Researchers from Tyron Partners, an investment banking services and strategy consultancy for education institutions, who published the report, also uncovered significant differences in student support services between colleges and universities that narrowed disparities based on race and ethnicity.

The report data was obtained using a calculating method developed to measure equity gaps and their academic outcomes among higher ed institutions. This methodology revealed such gaps by comparing the graduation rates of Black, Latino and indigenous students against the national average graduation rate within particular education sectors such as community and 4-year collegiate schools throughout the U.S..

Catherine Shaw, who helped author the report, is a director at Tyron Partners. Though the data uncovered these key disparities, she stresses that despite their inability to contribute to the report’s metrics due to the limited number of white students, many minority-serving institutions “really do have an important role to play in closing outcome gaps nationally.” By simply having a voice in the “reframing” of such outcome gaps, Shaw believes these institutions avoid being “left out of the discussion.”

Recognizing the “huge variety” of institution types with both shrinking and widening equity gaps, Shaw said. “Even though there are small schools, large schools, two-year, four-year—there was not a consistent pattern as you might expect. You might think, ‘The well-resourced institutions will of course make gains.’ That wasn’t true. It was all over the map. That surprised me, and I found it also encouraging.”

Estela Bensimon, founder of the Center for Urban Education, and university professor emerita at the University of Southern California, stated by email that she applauds the report in that it doesn’t “make white students the norm,” and appreciates its “promising practice.” She also recognized that the distinctions drawn between institutions whose gaps are narrowing and those whose gaps are widening “should help policymakers, practitioners, leaders see that racial inequity in outcomes are not inevitable and irreversible.”

The report included comprehensive responses from over 2,000 advisers, faculty members and administrators representing 1,022 colleges, including 136 Hispanic-serving institutions and 38 historically Black colleges and universities. These responses also helped gauge the differences between institutions with shrinking or widening equity gaps in terms of their advising and support services, comparing factors such as available advising technology, adviser caseloads and the student data available to academic advisers.