Taking a look at subgroups within a subgroup

The No Child Left Behind Act has received almost universal praise for its requirement that schools, districts and states disaggregate test scores according to things like race and socioeconomic status. Schools can’t hide behind high overall performance if a subgroup is doing poorly and, in theory, they are thus compelled to zero-in on traditionally disadvantaged students.

Two new papers from the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center underscore the importance of disaggregation in education statistics, and demonstrate how far we can–and maybe should–break down our numbers to determine where and how to target our resources.

The first paper, “The Educational Experience of Young Men of Color: A Review of Research, Pathways and Progress,” provides a thorough overview of the educational attainment of minority males. It also delves into differences among races and even among ethnicities within these races. Cuban males, for instance, have a 6 percent dropout rate. Compare that to 13 percent for Dominican males, or 25.8 percent for Salvadoran males.

The report even goes a step further, looking at the difference between U.S.-born and foreign-born Latinos and Asian/Pacific Islander males. Almost across the board, foreign-born students are more likely to drop out. For example, the dropout rate for Salvadoran males born in the U.S. is 10.1 percent. For immigrants, it’s 41.1 percent. In fact, the only ethnicity with no difference in dropout rates based on where students were born is Japanese males, with a 2.6 percent dropout rate for both subcategories. You can check out all of the figures on pp. 19-20 of the report.

The second paper, “The Educational Experience of Young Men of Color: Capturing the Student Voice,” includes the perspectives of 92 African-American, Asian-American/Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino and Native-American students at over three dozen colleges across the country.