Monday, December 26, 2011

College Board study groups Pacific Islanders with American Indians and Asians

Last week, we followed up on a post about the ACT properly recognizing Pacific Islanders by reporting on whether the SAT had also come up to speed. (Unfortunately, the answer is no, they have not.)

While researching to answer that question, I also came across another interesting report published by the College Board this year: "The Educational Experience of Young Men of Color: A Review of Research, Pathways and Progress." It's an interesting topic, but I was also caught by how they reported data on Pacific Islanders. In some cases, Pacific Islanders were grouped with Asians. In others, rather than showing Pacific Islander stand-alone data or "Asian/Pacific Islander" data, Pacific Islanders were grouped with Native Americans (and I assume they meant American Indians and Alaska Natives).

I was surprised because I haven't seen this kind of grouping, but two possible explanations came to mind:

  • More likely explanation: These two groups (American Indians and Alaska Natives on one hand, and Pacific Islanders on the other) have the smallest populations of the major racial groups, so they were lumped together for expediency.
  • Less likely, but my preferred explanation: As we've mentioned before, the Pacific Islander community includes both immigrant populations and indigenous peoples who are native to land that is now the United States of America. In fact, the three largest Pacific Islander American groups (Native Hawaiians, Samoans, and Chamorro) are indigenous to parts of the USA (Hawaii, American Samoa, and Guam). Together these indigenous peoples account for the overwhelming majority of the total Pacific Islander American community. Other than American Indians and Alaska Natives, Pacific Islanders are the only major racial group that includes peoples who are indigenous to the USA.
Want to read the report? Click here: LINK

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The ACT recognizes Pacific Islanders. What about the SAT?

Last week we blogged regarding the ACT's recent move to recognize Pacific Islanders as a distinct racial group by reporting Pacific Islander test scores separately from Asians. After reading the post, one of our regular readers asked me a question: what about the SAT?

(As mentioned in the last post, the SAT and ACT are the two leading standardized tests used across the nation to rank college-readiness.)

After a few days of looking, here's what I have to report back to that reader and the rest of our reader community: I found no evidence that the SAT is up to speed with the ACT when it comes to recognizing that Pacific Islanders are a distinct racial group.

Here's the online paper trail; feel free to let us know if you find something we missed!

The national SAT scores are released every fall by the College Board. In 2010, they issued this press release on their scores, and the news coverage included this article. As you'll see from the article, they released the national average, and broke the scores down by minority groups, including Asians, Whites, American Indian and Alaska Natives, Mexican and Mexican American, Latinos (excluding other explicitly mentioned Latino groups), Puerto Ricans, and African Americans.

Pacific Islanders are not mentioned.

Like last year, this fall the College Board released their 2011 national scores. I found no Pacific Islander scores. One graph did break down "2011 College-Bound Seniors by Race/Ethnicity," but Pacific Islanders are not included. The National Center for Education Statistics tracks SAT scores by race and ethnicity, and as you can see here, they report only "Asian/Pacific Islander" results. Lastly, I found this Atlantic article and this data from the National Center for Fair and Open Testing breaking down 2011 SAT scores by race. The Atlantic graph only lists Asians, and the other one groups Asians and Pacific Islanders as one.

In other words, the ACT is ahead of the SAT on this one.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pacific Islanders included in national ACT score reporting

For this week's post, I wanted to share a story published in the Chronicle of Higher Education regarding the racial gap in ACT test performance. (The ACT is a standardized test for college admissions, like the SAT.)

For most readers of the Chronicle, I assume that the main takeaways are that overall scores have increased slightly, and that a racial achievement gap remains -- with underrepresented minorities continuing to score below the national average. But for me, the most important thing was that for the first time, Pacific Islander scores were reported separately from Asian Americans, in recognition of the fact that we are a distinct group.

This is important to the P.I.A. project because it takes data to demonstrate the needs of our community -- from data validating our underrepresentation, to figures like this, which show how we perform on a standardized college readiness test. In this case, the national stats showed that Pacific Islanders, like other underrepresented minority groups scored below the national average.

You can read the full article here: LINK

Monday, December 05, 2011

Pacific Islander America: Utah

For the past few weeks, we've been catching up on our coverage of news and current events within the Pacific Islander American community.

How does this relate to the P.I.A. project's mission of expanding higher education opportunities for Pacific Islanders, and our lead project to end Pacific Islander exclusion from academic programs for underrepresented minorities? It all falls under the larger need to raise awareness about America's Pacific Islander community. After all, if these academic programs were familiar with Pacific Islanders, they'd know that Pacific Islanders should be allowed to apply alongside other underrepresented minorities.

Our series on California's Pacific Islander population is wrapped up, but the tour continues.

Next stop? Utah.

Utah has been a home for Pacific Islander Americans since the mid-to-late-19th Century. (A short article on the history of Pacific Islanders in Utah, dating as far back at the 1870s, authored by Carol Edison and housed on the University of Utah's website and available here: LINK)

Utah has a strong Pacific Islander population, and includes a mix of multi-generational residents and first-generation arrivals, and a variety of Pacific Islander groups. Despite challenges like those mentioned in this 20-year-old Associated Press article on Utah PIs, it is clear that there are also stories of success, from the small business owners who make up the Salt Lake City-based Pacific Islander Chamber of Commerce, to the members of the University of Utah's Pacific Islander Student Association, who are working towards their degrees.

This fall one of Utah's online news outlets also shared stories about the achievements of Pacific Islander individuals, who also shared their advice:
Another Utah story that caught my attention this fall was the Pacific Islander youth education conference that the state's community conceived, planned, and executed this September. Here are some articles on that: