Wednesday, March 24, 2010

AEI Lags on Racializing Data

How We Ask Questions

In no other area than statistical data is it of the utmost importance how we write the research questions that frame the analysis and lead us to the conclusions we desire.

In the table below, found on the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research website, we see how the title "Hispanic Graduation Rates Lag Whites' at all Levels of Admissions Selectivity" skews how we look at the data in such a way that the concept of 'lagging' nags at us as we attempt to construct knowledge from the 'unbiased' data.

The point that seems most salient, and one that I hope they unpack more, is:

"The gaps between white and Hispanic graduation rates are smaller at Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). This is not due, however, to higher Hispanic graduation rates at HSIs but to the tendency of these institutions to have below-average white graduation rates. HSIs do about as well as non-HSIs with similar admissions criteria in graduating their Hispanic students."(Kelly, Schneider, Carey)

Given the data that white students graduate at lower rates at HSIs, should we not be problematizing the impact of student representation on graduation rates since even white students suffer from issues of retention when they are underrepresented on campuses?

It seems difficult to escape the paradigm that views Latino/as as lacking when even the data meant to address issues of retention continues to perpetuate this non-generative discourse.

Update: What happens when we factor in economics?
Let's look at some of the data that critics like Christopher Newfield (162) and Scott Jaschick brings in when addressing the economic disparity between academic institutions of privilege, as opposed to those institutions that might qualify as HSIs:
2007 Endowment

Institution Endowment Per Student

    Harvard University $34.6 billion $1,730,000

    Yale University $22.5 billion $1,951,000

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