The Catholic University and Trinity Washington University are well-regarded institutions located next to each other in a verdant section of northeast Washington. Yet there is a huge gap between them in the relative graduation rates of their black and white students.
Trinity, with an enrollment of about 1,600 mostly female undergraduates, graduated 51 percent of its black students entering in 2000 within six years, higher than the national black graduation rate of about 40 percent and almost identical to Trinity’s white graduation rate, 53 percent. Catholic, with an enrollment of about 6,200, has a six-year graduation rate of 25 percent for black students and 72 percent for white students who entered in 2000, one of the largest discrepancies in the country in this vital statistic.
Kevin Carey, a noted graduation rate researcher, merely reveals this interesting divergence in the data about the two schools. He does not explain it. But his startling new report, “Graduation Rate Watch: Making Minority Student Success a Priority,” which can be found online at http://www.educationsector.org/research/research_show.htm?doc_id=678433, identifies the most likely sources of such differences and provides more hopeful data about raising the graduation rates of low-income and minority students than I have seen gathered in one place.