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  • Print publication year: 1996
  • Online publication date: June 2012

3 - Does Untracking Work?

Summary

Students from linguistic and ethnic minority backgrounds and low-income families do poorly in school by comparison with their majority and well-to-do contemporaries. They drop out at a higher rate. They score lower on tests. Their grades are lower. And most importantly for the topic of this book, they do not attend college as often (Carter & Wilson, 1991).

Students from linguistic and ethnic minority backgrounds are expected to compose an increasing percentage of the United States population through the early years of the 21st century (Pelavin & Kane, 1990; Carter & Wilson, 1991). Jobs that require higher education are expected to increase in number (Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce, 1990). The current census data, however, show that students from linguistic and ethnic minority backgrounds are not enrolling in college in sufficient numbers to qualify for the increasing number of jobs that will require baccalaureate degrees.

African American and Latino students have been enrolling in college more often recently than they have in the past, but they are not enrolling at the same rate as white students. In 1970, 26% of African American high school graduates enrolled in college; this rate reached a high of 34% in 1976, declined to 31% in 1989 and rose to 33% in 1990. In 1972 (the first year data were available), 26% of Latino high school graduates enrolled in college, whereas only 29% enrolled in 1990.