College Preparation for African American Students: Gaps in the High School Educational Experience

by Rhonda Tsoi-A-Fatt Bryant

Feb 1, 2015

This report focuses on the deficiencies and disparities in school systems, particularly those with high-minority populations, that leave students unprepared for the rigors of college. It addresses three key areas that are critical for college readiness: the level of coursework available, the experience level of the teachers, and access to guidance counselors, and provides implications for public policy.
  • By 2020, it is estimated that two-thirds of jobs will require college experience, with 30 percent of those jobs requiring at least a bachelor's degree and 36 percent requiring at least some college or an associate degree.
  • High-minority schools are more likely not to offer high-level courses. Only 57 percent of African American students have access to a full range of math and science courses, compared to 81 percent of White students.
  • When college preparatory courses are offered, African American students are underrepresented in the enrollment in these classes. Though they are 16 percent of all high school students, only 0.5 percent are enrolled in at least one AP course.
  • Four percent of African American students attend schools where more than 20 percent of teachers are in their first year of teaching, compared to just one percent of White students.
  • Positively, high schools with the largest Black and Latino student enrollment have a lower student to guidance counselor ratio, at 332 : 1, while high schools with the smallest Black and Latino student enrollment have a ratio of 368 : 1. However, these same high-minority schools are more likely than low-minority schools to have no counselors.