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Salem State Named Top 10 Institution For Latino Student Success

The Education Trust Report Details Low Graduation Gap Amongst Latino and White Students

Salem State has been named one of the 10 top-performing institutions for Latino student success according to a new report by The Education Trust, a national non-profit advocacy organization. The report, titled “A Look at Latino Student Success: Identifying Top- and Bottom-Performing Institutions,” was released on Dec. 14. Salem State is the only institution in New England to have been included in the Top 10 list.

According to the report, Salem State ranks seventh in the country among similar institutions, with a 46.7 percent Latino student graduation rate versus the 48.2 percent graduation rate of white students – a graduation gap of 1.5. Seventeen percent of Salem State students identify as Latino.

Salem State’s overall six-year graduation rate is 52 percent, a 15-point increase over the past 10 years. The university’s graduation rate for transfer student is 63 percent.

“As we celebrate this recognition and the efforts that have gone into achieving it, we also recognize that there is much more work to be done to drive the success of all of our students and close the achievement gap that exists for students of color,” said Scott James, executive vice president at Salem State. “Student success is a top priority at this institution, and this report is an encouraging indicator that the ongoing efforts of our faculty, staff and students are building results and momentum.”

The Latino population is the fastest growing population across the country, and, with that, comes an increase in Latino students enrolling in postsecondary education, according to Pew Research. Latino student success continues to be behind that of their white counterparts, with white young adults two-and-one-half times more likely to hold a bachelor’s degree than Latino young adults, according to The Education Trust.

In recent years, Salem State has worked to close graduation gaps and increase overall graduation rates by growing the number of faculty and staff members of color, having multilingual staff members available in key student-service areas, adding additional on-campus housing, and opening the Student Navigation Center, a one-stop-shop to assist with billing, financial aid, registration, and other matters related to the business of being a student. In addition, efforts like the Latin American Student Organization (LASO) contribute to students’ sense of belonging at Salem State and are critical to Latino student retention. 

“Our findings make clear that colleges and universities have a lot of work to do if they want to fulfill their public purpose to serve as engines of social mobility for all students, including Latino students,” said Wil Del Pilar, PhD, vice president of higher education policy and practice at The Education Trust. “As members of Congress contemplate changes to the Higher Education Act, they need to take a close look at what successful colleges are doing and provide resources, support, and a system of accountability to help lower-performing colleges get dramatically better at serving low-income students and students of color.”

The Education Trust is a nonprofit advocacy organization that promotes high academic achievement for all students at all levels, pre-kindergarten through college. Its goal is to close the gaps in opportunity and achievement that consign far too many young people — especially those from low-income families or who are Black, Latino, or American Indian — to lives on the margins of the American mainstream. More information is available at

The full Education Trust report, “A Look at Latino Student Success: Identifying Top- and Bottom-Performing Institutions,” can be found online.

Kimberly Burnett
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