Bucking a national trend: USCA closes the graduation gap between African-American and white students | Education

African-American students at USC Aiken are graduating at a slightly higher percentage rate than white students, reversing a national trend of a college graduation completion gap between black and white students.

“There’s no gap here,” said Dr. Lloyd Dawe, the director of Institutional Effectiveness, Research and Compliance at USCA. “That is the complete opposite of the national trend.”

Based on a weighted, three-year average from 2012 to 2014, African-American students at USCA had a graduation rate of 42.6 percent, which is 1.8 percent higher than white students, Dawe said. The numbers are based on first-time, full-time – true freshmen – students who graduated in six years.

Nationally, only 41 percent of black students who started college as first-time, full-time freshmen at four-year institutions in fall 2008 earned bachelor’s degrees within six years, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

That rate is 22 percentage points below their white peers nationally and creates a deep diversity gap in graduation numbers between African-American and white students who start and complete college, according to a recent report from the Education Trust, a nonprofit organization that advocates for minority and low-income students.

The report identified USCA and two other South Carolina colleges, Winthrop University in Rock Hill and Francis Marion University in Florence, as top-performing institutions for black students in the state.

According to the report, “many black students encounter a unique combination of financial, academic and social challenges that can make the path to degree completion rugged.” Those challenges include inequities in K-12 education that “mean that too many black students leave high school without acquiring the skills they need to immediately succeed in postsecondary education.”

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