Reporter’s notebook

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  • HSIs continue to grow
  • Are guided pathways working?
  • ED seeks public input for review of Title IX regs
  • Focus on corequisite support to improve equity

HSIs continue to grow

Public two-year colleges represent 41% of the nation’s 569 Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs), which have almost doubled in number over the last 10 years, according to Excelencia in Education.

In a new fact sheet, Excelencia points to the role HSIs play in higher education:

  • HSIs represent 18% of all U.S. colleges and universities (26% are public four-year institutions, and 30% are private four-year institutions).
  • Two-thirds of undergraduate Latinos (67%) are enrolled at an HSI.
  • Almost half of students enrolled at HSIs (46%) are Latino. (HSIs are accredited, degree-granting institutions with 25% or more of total undergraduate Hispanic full-time equivalent [FTE] student enrollment.)

Excelencia’s analysis is based on the most recent Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System information available from 2019-2020, so the data is pre-pandemic.

“The higher education community has been talking about transforming for years and the pandemic proved change is possible when it is necessary,” Excelencia CEO Deborah Santiago said in a release. “Educating Latino students is now a necessity. More has to be done to achieve the institutional transformation that intentionally serves Latinos, who are the country’s largest and youngest ethnic demographic and the key to our future workforce and civic leaders.”

The fact sheet also looks at so-called emerging HSIs (eHSIs), which also have seen an increase in numbers. There is currently no federal definition for eHSIs, but Excelencia identifies them as institutions with an undergraduate FTE Hispanic enrollment between 15% and 24% that may soon meet the HSI criteria as their Latino enrollment grows.

There are 362 eHSIs, which represent 12% of all U.S. higher education institutions. In the previous year of 2018-19, there were 352 such institutions. Among eHSIs, 28% are public two-year colleges, and 26% are public four-year institutions.

Are guided pathways working?

That’s what the Community College Research Center (CCRC) at Columbia University is studying.

So far, information on the effects of guided pathways has been observations, CCRC says. But the center is working with higher education agencies in Washington, Tennessee and Ohio to more rigorously evaluate whether the model improves STEM outcomes for underrepresented students and students in general.

CCRC is measuring the extent to which community colleges in the three states have adopted guided pathways reforms and is using student unit record data to see if it links with better outcomes for students. The center will assess changes in student enrollment, academic progress and persistence over a 10-year period.

The National Science Foundation is funding the evaluation. Results should be available in late 2022.

To date, about 400 colleges are involved in formal guided pathways efforts led by state and national groups such as the American Association of Community Colleges. Many other colleges are trying to implement the model on their own, according to CCRC.

ED seeks public input for review of Title IX regs

The U.S. Education Department on Tuesday announced it is seeking public input as it begins a comprehensive review of its regulations implementing Title IX.

The department’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) will do the review as part of President Joe Biden’s executive order last month on guaranteeing an educational environment free from discrimination on the basis of sex, including sexual orientation or gender identity.

OCR outlined its plans to solicit the public’s input on the regulations, which could lead to revisions through a notice of proposed rulemaking.

“The input will also support the Department’s commitment to ensuring equal and nondiscriminatory access to education for students in schools across the nation, from pre-K-12 and in postsecondary institutions, including in extracurricular activities and other educational settings,” ED says.

Focus on corequisite support to improve equity

Complete College America (CCA) says focusing on corequisite support for students who need developmental education in math and English is critical to improving equity and student success in higher education.

“Students of color, first generation students, and adult learners are disproportionately impacted by outdated remedial course sequences,” says a new report from CCA, which has promoted corequisite support for a decade. “Black and Latinx students in particular are disproportionately enrolled in remediation, making them more likely to get stuck in long remedial course sequences that lead many to stop out before they complete gateway courses.”

Despite its support and documented effectiveness, many colleges still don’t use the approach, which includes students taking credit-earning gateway courses that are coupled with supports to help them succeed. CCA cited a 2020 study that indicates 40% of more than 2,000 administrators and faculty at two-year and four-year institutions said their college was not implementing systematic developmental-education reforms. Of the 60% who reported that their institution was at scale or in the midst of implementing reforms, 23.5% said that multi-semester (remedial) course sequences were still used for more than half of their math courses, and 14% reported the same for English courses.

“In short, over half of those surveyed still rely on traditional remedial sequences that lead students to stop out from college, having taken on debt with no college credit to show for it,” according to CCA.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
is editor of Community College Daily and serves as publications director for the American Association of Community Colleges.