News: Data, Research & Evaluation

New Brief Provides Race x Gender Benchmarks, Comparisons of Member-Served Students

Friday, June 28, 2019  
Posted by: Bill DeBaun, Director of Data and Evaluation
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NCAN member-served students were more likely than a national sample to enroll in a four-year public institution and less likely to enroll at a community college or four-year private nonprofit institution. Additionally, member-served male and female Black and Hispanic students were more likely to complete college within six years of enrolling than their peers nationally. These are some of the findings of a new brief released by NCAN this month that provides enrollment by institution type and six-year completion rate benchmarks by race/ethnicity and gender.

The brief uses data on students from the high school class of 2011 from NCAN’s Benchmarking Project to examine enrollment and completion rate outcomes and compare them to a national sample from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (NSCRC).

Across five rounds of data collection, the Benchmarking Project found that NCAN member-served students’ postsecondary enrollment outcomes exceed those of their peers and students from most high school types nationally. Member-served students’ completion outcomes exceed those of their peers but have consistently trailed behind national benchmarks. Although NCAN’s annual Benchmarking reports include outcomes separately by race/ethnicity and gender, this new brief examines outcomes at the intersection of these student characteristics for the first time.

Janai C. Raphael, NCAN’s graduate assistant for research and data analysis, is the brief’s lead author. Her analysis comes in three parts: 1) a comparison of the NCAN and NSCRC samples, 2) a comparison of starting institution types of fall 2011 first fall enrollers by race/ethnicity and gender between the two samples, and 3) a comparison of six-year completion rates by race/ethnicity and gender between the two samples.

Although member-served students’ six-year completion rate outcomes have consistently trailed those in the NSCRC’s national benchmark, the brief finds that this may be primarily an arithmetical challenge because of the two samples’ different demographic compositions.

For example, member-served Black male students completed at rates 6 percentage points higher than their peers in the NSCRC sample, and Black female students had a 7 percentage-point advantage over their peers. Hispanic male students edged the comparison group by 1 percentage point, while Hispanic female students did so by 4 percentage points. These results are encouraging, given that Black and Hispanic students comprise 72% of the NCAN class of 2011 sample, compared to 28% in the NSCRC sample.

White NCAN member-served students, on the other hand, trail their peers nationally by significant margins – 11 percentage points for males and 12 for females. White students comprise 66% of the NSCRC sample, compared to 18% of the NCAN sample.

“Although NCAN members have succeeded in helping students of color complete at rates higher than their peers nationally, these students still complete at rates lower than White students nationally, who also comprise a much larger proportion of the national sample,” the brief notes. “This arithmetical challenge makes closing the completion gap between the NCAN and the national completion rate more difficult than it would be if the samples were composed similarly.”

Another important feature of this brief is its inclusion of outcomes for American Indian students. Due to sample size restrictions in many national reports, including the NSCRC’s, postsecondary outcomes benchmarks for this student population are often unavailable. Note that the American Indian student sample is drawn from a smaller number of member programs that serve these students. These findings in the brief consequently represent a smaller number of students than other racial and ethnic group samples.

The fifth round of NCAN’s Benchmarking Project includes data from 69 member organizations and over 108,000 students from the high school classes of 2011 and 2016. The NCAN members that participated in the Benchmarking Project submitted student-level data through the StudentTracker service from the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC). The NSCRC matched the student data submitted by NCAN members with NSC enrollment and completion information for those same students and aggregated these data to create enrollment and completion rates for students served by these programs.

The Benchmarking Project represents an important commitment to measuring and reporting outcomes. Its findings are suggestive that NCAN members are making progress toward their mission of helping students underrepresented on college campuses.

For more information about the Benchmarking Project or to request analyses, please contact Bill DeBaun, NCAN’s director of data and evaluation, at