Duke, Butler succeed off the court, too
Update: Education Secretary Arne Duncan weighs in. See below.
Duke and Butler universities finished first and second in this year's NCAA basketball tournament. There are few feats that can earn a college more publicity. But let us pause to pile on an additional plaudit.
All-but-ignored in the celebration is the stellar record both schools have attained in minority graduation. I wish this were an original thought; it came to me via Education Trust, the nonprofit group dedicated to closing racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps.
According to 2007 data, the most recent available, Duke's six-year graduation rate is 93.6 percent overall and 93.4 percent for underrepresented minorities, according to the nonprofit organization. The national average for underrepresented minorities -- the group that includes African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans -- is 42 percent.
Butler has a graduation rate of 73.6 percent overall and 70 percent among underrepresented minority students.
The six-year graduation rate is the share of students who complete their studies within six years after they begin, a span that covers those who need a little extra time to finish.
More from EdTrust's release:
The NCAA tournament has the power to put little-known schools on the map as well as boost the profile of traditional basketball powerhouses, making them highly attractive to high school students across the nation. But too often, these schools are disappointing performers where it matters most--in the classroom. That's why Education Secretary Arne Duncan has called on the NCAA to institute new rules to ensure that basketball programs making the Big Dance are held accountable for their success off the court. Duncan's proposal would require the NCAA to set a minimum graduation rate for teams to be eligible for post-season play.
Duncan himself paused to give the two schools some props. Writing on an Ed.gov blog, the secretary said the historic matchup "puts to the lie the notion that men's basketball teams have to cut academic corners, especially for African-American athletes, to succeed in the NCAA tournament."
He noted further, "not one of the 12 men's teams in the NCAA tournament with graduation rates below 40 percent made it to the Final Four this year. Anyone who filled out their Sweet Sixteen brackets this year based on graduation rates alone would have had Duke and Butler going head-to-head in the final."
Getting back to EdTrust, the organization says some NCAA schools with well-recognized basketball programs have comparatively weak graduation records with minority students. The graduation rate at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas is 40.6 percent overall and 34.6 percent for underrepresented minorities; at Murray State University, the graduation rate is 50.7 percent overall and 32.4 percent for underrepresented minority students.
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Daniel de Vise
April 8, 2010; 5:33 AM ET
Categories: Access , Attainment , Research | Tags: Butler NCAA, Duke Butler EdTrust, Duke Butler graduation rate, Duke Butler minority graduation, Duke NCAA
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