America's public schools have reached a milestone.
The number of students who identify as minorities outnumbered white students for the first time during the 2014-2015 school year.
And in recent years, U.S. Latinos have made strides in educational attainment in both the country's public K-12 classrooms and colleges.
Here are five facts about Latinos and education from Pew Research Center:
1. Over the past decade, the Hispanic high school dropout rate has dropped dramatically.
The rate reached a new low in 2014, dropping from 32% in 2000 to 12% in 2014 among those ages 18 to 24. This helped lower the national dropout rate from 12% to 7% over the same time period – also a new low. Even so, the Hispanic dropout rate remains higher than that of blacks (7%), whites (5%) and Asians (1%).
2. Hispanics are making big inroads in college enrollment.
In 2014, 35% of Hispanics ages 18 to 24 were enrolled in a two- or four-year college, up from 22% in 1993 – a 13-percentage-point increase. By comparison, college enrollment during this time among blacks (33% in 2014) increased by 8 percentage points, and among whites (42% in 2014) the share increased 5 points.
3. Hispanics still lag other groups in obtaining a four-year degree.
As of 2014, among Hispanics ages 25 to 29, just 15% of Hispanics have a bachelor’s degree or higher. By comparison, among the same age group, about 41% of whites have a bachelor’s degree or higher (as do 22% of blacks and 63% of Asians). This gap is due in part to the fact that Hispanics are less likely than some other groups to enroll in a four-year college, attend an academically selective college and enroll full-time.
4. Nearly half Hispanics who go to college attend a public two-year school, or community college, the highest share of any race or ethnicity.
By comparison, among college-goers, 30% of whites, 32% of Asians and 36% of blacks go to a community college. This is another reason Hispanic students lag in bachelor’s degrees.
5. Hispanics are significantly less likely than other groups to have student debt.
About 22% of young Hispanic households (those headed by someone younger than 40) have student loans. The share is nearly twice as high among young white households (42%) and young black households (40%). This is because, despite growing college enrollment, young Hispanics are not as likely to go to college as some other groups. And among those who do, Hispanics are more likely than others to attend community colleges, which generally have lower tuition than four-year schools.
According to Education Week, the shift to majority-minority students is not without its challenges.
Cultural divides can create a disconnect between teachers and their students; there has been a rise in students whose first language is not English; and as districts have become more racially and ethnically diverse, they've also become poorer. Kent McGuire is president of the Southern Education Foundation. He told Education Week:
We are talking about the kids that we historically have served least well. Over the decades, we have not managed to reduce the variation in performance between kids of color and white kids, and we haven’t closed the gap between advantaged kids and disadvantaged kids. So now we have to figure out how to do something we’ve never done before, for the majority.