RIC among top colleges in improving Hispanic graduation rates

Rhode Island College made a dramatic leap in the graduation rates of its Hispanic students, coming in at number 20 among the top 25 public institutions of higher education that have seen their rates rise, according to a study released Sept. 20 by the Education Trust.

In addition, the college ranked number 10 among public institutions showing the greatest decreases in the graduation gap between Hispanic and white students.

The study, “Advancing to Completion: Increasing degree attainment by improving graduation rates and closing gaps for Hispanic students,” was conducted by the Education Trust, an organization that promotes high academic achievement and works to help close gaps in opportunities for students whose needs and potential are frequently overlooked.

RIC’s status as a “gainer” in the study is due to its Hispanic student graduation rate nearly doubling from 2004 to 2010, from 21.9 percent to 40.7 percent (an 18.8 percentage point change). The college also lowered the gap between Hispanic and white student graduation rates during the same six-year period, from 23.4 percentage points to 6.9 percentage points (a 16.5 percentage point change).

José Cruz, vice president for higher education policy and practice at The Education Trust, said, “The lessons are clear: What institutions of higher education do – and don’t do – for students directly and powerfully impacts student success. The schools we’ve identified provide vivid sign posts on the road to boosting graduation rates at colleges and universities across the country.”

Ron Pitt, RIC’s vice president for Academic Affairs, said, “Hispanic students represent a crucial and growing population that Rhode Island College serves. We are proud to welcome Hispanic students to our campus and are working hard to promote their success up to and after graduation.”

RIC is also the state’s first and only member institution of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.

Said Jennifer Engle, director of higher education research and policy at The Education Trust: “We must keep the doors of opportunity open for all students — and the best way to make that happen is to learn from and build on the efforts of successful institutions.”