Between 2003 and 2013, LSU’s black graduation rate increased 9.5 percentage points, making the university one of 53 four-year public institutions to make gains in closing gaps in graduation rates between white and black students, according to a new report from The Education Trust.
The “Rising Tide II: Do Black Students Benefit as Grad Rates Increase” report looks at a decade of graduation rates data for students at four-year institutions. Researchers behind the report examined 232 institutions that improved overall graduation rates during the past decade and had at least 30 first-time, full-time black students and 30 first-time, full-time white students.
“This news underscores LSU’s commitment to increasing African American student access to and success at our university,” says LSU President F. King Alexander in a statement.
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette and Nicholls State University are also among the 53 institutions listed as closing gaps in graduation rates. UL improved black graduation rates by 13.3 percentage points, while Nicholls’ improved by 15.2 percentage points.
In the report, researchers note that more than two-thirds of four-year, public colleges and universities have increased graduation rates in the past decade.
“Many institutions celebrate improvements in student success. But over-all gains often mask different outcomes for different groups of students. Nowhere do we see this more clearly than for black students,” the report reads.
Among the institutions examined, Latino and Native American students made faster progress on average than their white peers, while black students made less progress, the report reads. According to the report, LSU not only increased graduation rates among black students between 2003 and 2013, it also narrowed the completion gap between white and black students by 2.3 percentage points.
According to LSU, enrollment of African American students has increased by 51% since 2009, and the proportion of the student body identifying as African American increased from 8.8% to 11.7%.
In a statement, Alexander highlights programs such as Black Male Leadership Initiative and the University’s Office of Diversity as efforts the university has undertaken to support black students and students of diverse background.
“Every member of our faculty and staff have played a role in this achievement,” Alexander says. “There is still room for improvement, and we will use this milestone as momentum, but we should always take a moment to mark how far we’ve come.”
The Education Trust is a national nonprofit headquartered in Washington, D.C., and is focused on closing opportunity and achievement gaps for American students at all levels.