“Nowhere is the model minority stereotype of Asian Americans more prevalent than in the arena of education,” says Betty Hung, policy director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles. “This report debunks the model minority myth by exposing, through ethnically disaggregated data, the real barriers and needs of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students who struggle amidst hardships to achieve the dream of a college degree.”
Among the report findings are data that illustrate the stark contrasts that exist across the AANHPI spectrum. For example, the report finds a 21% variance in high school graduation rates across AANHPI ethnic groups. The A-G completion rates for AANHPI students also vary by 49%. For Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) students, only 37% are eligible for admission into a University of California (UC) or California State University (CSU) institution. And contrary to common perceptions of where AANHPIs attend college, nearly half or 47% of all Asian Americans and 55% of NHPI students start at a California community college.
The report finds a wide disparity in educational attainment, showing a 60% variation in college graduation rates across the AANHPI community. Specifically, 70% of Indian adult individuals, 25 years and older, have a bachelor degree or higher compared to 10% of Laotian adults. Notably, comparative figures among the following Asian American and Pacific Islander ethnic groups fall below the overall state average of 31% for all adults with a bachelor degree or higher: Vietnamese (29%), Cambodian (16%), Hmong (13%), Guamanian or Chamorro and Samoan (12%).
The report also highlights the financial needs of AANHPI students, highlighting significant barriers to educational access and success. Hmong and Cambodian children, for example, have the highest rates of poverty in California, 42% and 33%, respectively, slightly higher than their Black and Latino counterparts. Comparably, the poverty rates for Laotian, Tongan, Burmese, and Samoan children are between 22 to 30%. In the University of California (UC) system, data show that almost half of Asian American undergraduate students receive Pell Grants, a federal need-based program. This includes 46% of Chinese American students entering the UC system in Fall 2013.
“This report challenges many common misperceptions and paints a more accurate picture of the complexity of the AANHPI community and higher education,” says Stewart Kwoh, President & Executive Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles.
“Policymakers and higher education leaders must stop treating our community as a monolithic whole. Our most disadvantaged AANHPI students face significant barriers to educational access and success, including high poverty and low graduation rates, and all AANHPI students are impacted by California's decades of disinvestment in public higher education which has resulted in rising costs and fewer seats in public colleges.”
The report, “The State of Higher Education in California: Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander,” was released in partnership with the Campaign for College Opportunity.