Report: PCC helps Hispanic students stay on college track

Published: Oct. 30, 2014 at 9:42 PM MST|Updated: Feb. 28, 2018 at 5:14 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Local and national education leaders are focusing on helping Hispanic students go to college and stay long enough to earn a degree. Research from Excelencia in Education, a group that analyzes where Latinos stand in higher education, breaks down their data for Arizona.

According to its research, Pima Community College enrolls the most Hispanic students, more than 13,000 in 2011, but awarded fewer than 900 associate degrees that year.

The new president of the National Education Association, and the first Latina to ever head up the nation's largest union of educators, was in Tucson on Thursday to talk about Hispanics and higher learning. Lily Eskelsen Garcia says high schools need to help Spanish-speaking families feel comfortable getting involved in their child's schooling.

She says many schools are embracing this with open houses and other events geared towards those families.

"How do we put translators in the schools? How do we send things to the parents in their native language? And parents notice that, and they say 'wow they want me to have information, they actually want me to be involved," Garcia said.

She also believes making college affordable is important to keeping those Hispanic students in school.

Pima Community College was part of a community college conference Thursday in Tucson. The college provost says she's working on ways to encourage her Hispanic students to go the distance.

"So they can work around their work schedules and different other obligations they may have outside of school. So we continue to work on our scheduling, looking at our program offerings," said Erica Holmes, Ed.D.

PCC also keeps tabs on whether they're Hispanic students are graduating. Hispanic graduating rates fall shortly behind "overall" graduation rates. For the 2013-2014 school year, seven-percent of all students who had been full time for three years achieved a degree or certificate. That figure for Hispanic students was at five-percent.

Holmes adds that many PCC students attend the college to take a course that helps them get a job promotion or to transfer to universities. PCC's data shows three times as many students are taking the opportunity to transfer.

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