Indicators of Higher Education Equity in the United States — 2017 Historical Trend Report

Source: Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, 2017

Vrom the summary:
…..This 2017 Indicators Report and the earlier reports compile statistical data since the 1970s from the nationally representative government statistics including the Census Bureau household studies and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)-sponsored high school and college longitudinal studies which track college entrance and completion by family income, socioeconomic status, and race/ethnicity.

A Special Focus on Understanding Equity. The 2015 edition of the Indicators Report began with a quote from the foreword to President Truman’s 1947 Commission on Higher Education that called attention to the dangers of a higher education system that functioned not to provide opportunity but to sort students: “If the ladder of educational opportunity rises high at the doors of some youth and scarcely rises at the doors of others, while at the same time formal education is made a prerequisite to occupational and social advance, then education may become the means, not of eliminating race and class distinctions, but of deepening and solidifying them.” The Indicators Reports are dedicated to increasing our understanding of how to address the equity issues raised by the Truman Commission Report 70 years ago.

Operationalizing Measures of Higher Education Opportunity in the United States. In these statistical reports, we operationalize the concept of “equity” in terms of several types of deviations from a distribution that would indicate “equal access to education.” For example, we observe the differences across quartiles of family income in the percentages of students entering college and receiving bachelor’s degrees. We also observe the extent to which, for example, the racial/ethnic distribution of the composition of the U.S. population differs from the racial/ethnic distribution of degree recipients.
The 2015 Indicators Report focused on equity in higher education based on measures of family income.

Family income remains the primary focus of the 2017 edition. Recognizing the need to also address inequity based on other interrelated demographic characteristics, the 2016 and 2017 editions include selected indicators that highlight differences by race/ethnicity, parent education, and a composite socioeconomic status (SES). The Indicators Reports present data as far back as comparable data warrant, often beginning with 1970. Methodological appendices provide additional relevant notes, tables, and figures……

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