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Civil-Rights Panel Weighs in on Where Minorities Fare Best in STEM Fields

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The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights recently released a report that examined minority students' pursuit of degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and whether a higher percentage of minority students drop out of those disciplines due to inadequate preparation. The report, "Encouraging Minority Students to Pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Careers," found that admissions preferences based on race led to more minority students giving up on STEM degrees. However, the report noted that when black and white students enter with similar academic credentials, black students are more likely to graduate with a science degree.

The report follows a 2008 hearing before the commission in which most experts testified in support of the "mismatch" hypothesis, which states that minority students perform better in STEM subjects if they attend less demanding institutions that do not have a significant gap in their level of preparation compared to other students.

Rice University professor Richard A. Tapia says the mismatch theory should be used to encourage elite schools to continue to admit promising, but academically underprepared, students and provide them with more support.

From The Chronicle of Higher Education
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Abstracts Copyright © 2010 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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