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Commissioner: State on track to meet degree goals - Odessa American: Education

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Commissioner: State on track to meet degree goals

Need more males to persist in college

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Posted: Wednesday, July 18, 2018 1:56 pm

The state is on track to meet its goal of getting at least 60 percent of Texans ages 25-34 to earn a certificate or degree by 2030, Texas Commissioner of Higher Education Raymund Paredes said.

Paredes spoke during a quarterly teleconference with reporters Wednesday.

He said the state also was progressing toward having 550,000 people achieve a credential by 2030. Paredes added that more males and economically disadvantaged students are needed in higher education. He said there is modest growth, but it is not growing as fast as it could.

Paredes said African American and particularly Latino males are underrepresented, but white males are, as well.

“We have to work across all ethnic groups. We know that mentoring is a factor. We know that information about higher education in general is a particular issue among males. We know that figuring out what kind of classes to take with all the options that are available … creates a real challenge for high schools in advising,” Paredes said.

David Gardner, deputy commissioner/chief academic officer, said there is a major policy discussion at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board on male participation in higher education and it’s hoped colleges and universities will put a spotlight on it and work on it.

Asked about why there is underrepresentation among males, Paredes said it’s the home environment and the first few years of school that play a factor in males going to post-secondary education.

“We know that there are a lot of polls that show as males go deeper into the school system that their enthusiasm and their sense that they’re going to college declines,” Paredes said. “We’ve got to do something about that. Males who enroll, or indicate their intention of enrollment, we know they have a higher attrition rate than the girls do, so we’re addressing this issue in our summer melt activities” which help males transition to college.

He said a lot of people contend that the culture of “adolescent maleness … in some ways is hostile to educational attainment and educational achievement.

“There’s been a lot of research on that males, particularly poor males, don’t think it’s cool to do well in school. There’s been a concerted effort to deal with that. We’ve supported programs, (like) Project MALES that aim to provide particular mentoring to males as soon as they enter college, has shown some success,” Paredes said.

MALES stands for Mentoring to Achieve Latino Educational Success.

“We know mentoring programs that target males — one at University of Houston got spectacular results. We just have to keep those kinds of activities going,” Paredes said.

In a 2017 article, Odessa College Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness Don Wood said 59 percent of students at Odessa College are Hispanic; 32 percent white; 7 percent are black; 1 percent are Asian and 1 percent are Native American, Wood said. Of those students, 60 percent are women and 40 percent are men.

In 2009, Wood said OC had a persistence rate of 69 percent and in 2016, it was 74 percent.

Among men in 2009, it was 65 percent and 73 percent among women.

In 2016, the persistence rate was 68 percent for men and 79 percent for women.

Among Hispanics, the persistence rate in 2009 was 69 percent and 68 percent for whites. In 2016, it was 74 percent for Hispanics and 73 percent for whites.

“The gaps between the males and females and Hispanics and African Americans are disappearing all over the place, but the gaps for the white students remain. There’s a thing going on with white students, which has been going on for a while: they’re disappearing from college — males are disappearing. You just see it decline. Male white students are not doing as well as they used to do,” Wood said in a 2017 interview.

He said he didn’t have any theories as to why, but it is a phenomenon seen around the country.

On a separate topic, Paredes said the college-going rate is showing an uptick after a two-year decline. He said it was 52 or 53 percent, but compared to other states, there’s a gap.

In Massachusetts, for example, more than 70 percent of high school graduates go on to college.

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