Educational Testing Service

September 18, 2009 09:00 ET

Report: Hispanic Achievement Gap Persists

Hispanics Two to Three Times Less Likely Than Whites to Receive Baccalaureate Degree

PRINCETON, NJ--(Marketwire - September 18, 2009) - Hispanics' participation in higher education continues to rise, yet their likelihood of graduating high school underprepared for college; their propensity to attend two-year schools; low levels of parent education; and limited financial resources pose formidable obstacles to achieving a baccalaureate degree, according to a new report released today by Educational Testing Service and the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE).

The 2009 Tomás Rivera Lecture, "Hispanicity and Educational Inequality: Risks, Opportunities and the Nations' Future," documents Hispanic demographics, growth trends, educational attainment and various road blocks leading to Hispanic underrepresentation in higher education. The report was authored by Marta Tienda, Ph.D., a professor of sociology at Princeton University, and reproduces the keynote address she delivered at the annual AAHHE conference in March 2009, in Texas.

"AAHHE is delighted that ETS's Policy Information Center decided to publish and distribute Professor Tienda's Tomás Rivera Lecture," Loui Olivas, AAHHE president says. "The data she has amassed must be understood by educators, administrators and policymakers if together we are going to address Hispanic educational attainment systematically."

In her report, Tienda argues that the United States is more diverse ethnically and racially than at any time in its history. Hispanics account for more than one third of the 100 million persons added to the U.S. population between 1976 and 2006. This increase, she says, coincides with a period of rising socioeconomic inequality with the majority non-Hispanic White population. For example, only one in 20 Hispanic students completes a four-year program -- roughly half the number of similarly situated White students.

Tienda points out that because Hispanics will comprise a larger segment of the labor force in the future, America's global competitiveness "will be impacted significantly by the progress that Hispanics make at all levels of the educational system, but especially college completion."

"Hispanics falling behind in their educational attainment is worrisome not only because advanced schooling is becoming ever more important for labor market success and meaningful civic engagement, but also because the offspring of Latin American immigrants are the fastest-growing segment in U.S. schools," Tienda writes.

Tienda's report examines the growing Hispanic presence through the lens of education, along with the challenges and promises of Hispanics' educational futures. Included is the pace of population growth and diversification; the generational transition; and the aging of the majority White population. In addition, Tienda presents a broad overview of recent educational trends and differentials. The concluding section discusses the social and economic significance of the burgeoning second generation Hispanic population.

Tienda concludes that in the future Hispanics will drive U.S. diversification through the first three decades of the 21st century, with Hispanics comprising at least one in five U.S. residents in roughly a generation.

Download "Hispanicity and Educational Inequality: Risks, Opportunities and the Nations' Future" free at Copies also are available by writing to the Policy Information Center, c/o ETS, MS 19-R, Rosedale Road, Princeton, NJ 08541-0001; by calling 1-609-734-5694; or by sending an e-mail to

About the Tomás Rivera Lecture

Since 1985, a distinguished scholar or prominent leader has been selected to present the Tomás Rivera Lecture. In the tradition of the former Hispanic Caucus of the American Association for Higher Education, AAHHE is continuing this lecture at its annual conference. It is named in honor of the late Dr. Tomás Rivera, professor, scholar, poet and former president of the University of California, Riverside. Rivera was a Trustee of ETS from 1980 to the time of his death in May, 1984. This is the first such lecture to be published and distributed.

About ETS

At nonprofit ETS, we advance quality and equity in education for people worldwide by creating assessments based on rigorous research. ETS serves individuals, educational institutions and government agencies by providing customized solutions for teacher certification, English-language learning, and elementary, secondary and post-secondary education, as well as conducting education research, analysis and policy studies. Founded in 1947, ETS develops, administers and scores more than 50 million tests annually -- including the TOEFL® and TOEIC® tests, the GRE® test and The Praxis Series™ assessments -- in more than 180 countries, at over 9,000 locations worldwide.