WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has announced the release of The Educational Effectiveness of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Encouraging Minority Students to Pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Careers (STEM) briefing reports.
The Commission found that students at historically black colleges and universities reported higher levels of academic involvement in their studies and in faculty research projects than black students at non-HBCUs. Further, the Commission found that HBCUs produce disproportionately higher shares of degrees in STEM fields. The Commission's findings attributed this success in part to admissions policies that do not create a credentials gap, or "mismatch," between any particular student and median students in the school or program. The Commission recommended that black students consider attending colleges where their credentials match those of the typical student, and urged researchers to study HBCU successes to help other schools emulate their best practices. The HBCU report (not including the findings and recommendations) was approved by a 6-0-1 vote (Reynolds, Thernstrom, Heriot, Kirsanow, Melendez and Yaki voted for; Gaziano abstained; Taylor was not present for the vote; votes relating to each finding and recommendation are noted in the report.)
In the STEM report, the Commission found that academic mismatch was a substantial factor in the disproportionate rates of attrition in science-related programs for all students, regardless of race, but that racially and ethnically preferential admissions policies contributed to the high attrition rates of black and Hispanic students in comparison to the median student at the colleges studied by panelists. The Commission recommended that selective colleges not admit any STEM student with a large deficit in academic credentials relative to its STEM median without informing that student of the potential impact of such deficit on that student. Similarly, the Commission urged high school guidance counselors to advise students of the risks of large deficits in academic credentials in a particular college's STEM program. Also, the Commission noted that well-designed academic support programs can sometimes help students with modest credentials deficits to succeed in STEM programs. The STEM report (not including the findings and recommendations) was approved by a 5-1-1 vote (Reynolds, Gaziano, Heriot, Kirsanow, Taylor voted for; Yaki voted against; Thernstrom abstained; Melendez was not present for the vote; votes relating to each finding and recommendation are noted in the report).
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is an independent, bipartisan agency charged with monitoring federal civil rights enforcement. Members include Chairman Gerald A. Reynolds, Vice Chair Abigail Thernstrom, Commissioners Todd Gaziano,Gail Heriot, Peter N. Kirsanow, Arlan D. Melendez, Ashley L. Taylor, Jr., and Michael Yaki. Martin Dannenfelser is the Staff Director. Commission meetings are open to the general public.