Friday, July 26, 2013

Pacific Islander 20-somethings three times less likely to hold college degrees than Asian American peers

For this week's post, we're sharing an interesting stat that appeared in an online story in the New York edition of

In 2007, 59.6 percent of all Asians in the United States 25 to 29-years-old had a college degree. But only 18 percent of Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders of the same age had a degree. The AAPI designation combines all of these groups into the same category.

In other words, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islander 25 to 29-year-olds are more than three times less likely to have a college degree than Asian Americans in the same age group.

We've shared lots of data on Pacific Islander underrepresentation, but this figure is interesting because it looks at the youngest cohort of college graduate age Americans, and finds that Pacific Islanders in this age group are over three times less likely to hold a college degree. This is very similar to the overall data showing that for Americans over 25 years-old, Pacific Islanders are over three times less likely to hold a bachelor's, and five times less likely to hold an advanced degree.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Report shows that the number of Pacific Islanders in poverty grew faster than any other major group during recession

Last month, the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development, better known as National CAPACD presented "Spotlight: Asian American and Pacific Islander Poverty." It's full of different data, but here's the figure that caught our attention:

From 2007 to 2011, America's population of Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders living in poverty increased by 60 percent.  

The Pacific Islander increase of 60 percent is more than twice the national rate's increase of 27 percent. In fact, of all of the racial groups studied (Whites, Blacks, American Indian/Alaska Native, Hispanic, and Asian) Pacific Islanders saw the biggest percentage increase in the population living in poverty. 

It's also a figure that would have been lost if the study's authors had merely lumped Pacific Islanders in with Asians.  As National CAPACD demonstrates with their report, the increase shown when AAs and PIs are grouped together was 38 percent, which is almost identical to the rate for Asians (37 percent) but significantly lower than the Pacific Islander rate of (60 percent).

Disaggregated data on the AA/PI populations reveals the income disparities within subsets of this diverse group. Yet policymakers and others don't always realize the differences between the dozens of subgroups under the AA/PI umbrella.

Mahalo to National CAPACD for this important study, and for demonstrating a commitment to recognizing the need for clear data on Pacific Islanders! The full report is available here, and additional information on National CAPACD can be found on their website,


Sunday, July 14, 2013

iCount Conference demonstrates need for quality data on Pacific Islanders and Asians

In case you missed it, we wanted to call your attention to an interesting conferences focused on a topic near to our mission: disaggregation of Pacific Islander and Asian American data.  Earlier this summer, a two day conference was held in Washington DC, hosted by the Educational Testing Services (ETS) and the National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education (CARE), along with the support of the U.S. Department of Education. The conference, called iCount: A Data Quality Movement for AAPI in Higher Education, can be viewed now by following this link: here

The conference attendees noted that Asians and Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders comprise the first (Asian) and second (Pacific Islanders) fastest growing racial groups in the United States.  Speakers also recognized that despite the tendency to group both categories together, the dozens of sub-groups show significant diversity. In terms of education, the lack of accurate AAPI data prevents policy makers from identifying achievement gaps and addressing the educational needs of subgroups that require more attention and resources.

Congresswoman Judy Chu, PhD, Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, discussed how the application of the "model minority" myth does not follow the real data on Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans, citing high school graduation rates for Southeast Asians and college completion rates for Pacific Islanders: 

“In reality, the diversity of the needs within this community is very deep, and the stereotype ignores the challenges of sub populations that are being left behind in classrooms all across America. The high school dropout rate among Southeast Asian Americans is staggering. 40% of Hmong, 38% of Laotian, and 35% of Cambodian populations do not complete high school. According to the 2010 census, 47% of Guamanian, 50% of Native Hawaiians, 54% of Tongans, 58% of Samoans who entered college left without earning a degree. Without comprehensive data about these students, glaring disparities in academic achievements continue to remain invisible.”

The Pacific Islander Access project is proud to support the efforts of iCount's organizers and everyone else dedicated to helping decision makers understand the true needs of America's growing Pacific Islander community. 


Friday, July 05, 2013

Catching up after a great month


Aside from the previous week's updates, last month's blogging was focused largely on our Chronicle on Higher Education guest column on the misclassification of Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. I have been overwhelmed by the amount of positive feedback I've received from Pacific Islander students, professors, parents, organizations, Asian Pacific Islander advocacy groups, and social justice advocates of various backgrounds who reached out to me and others at the P.I.A. project since our column went online and to print.

My greatest hope is that in addition to raising awareness and getting people talking, the inclusion of our column in America's top publication on higher ed will also help underrepresented minority scholarships and fellowships realize that now is the time to stop misclassifying Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. Only time will tell.

As the P.I.A. project staff mentioned in an earlier post, we've also gained a voice on the National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education. 

Meanwhile, I'm pleased to announce another change that you'll see in this month. We are very happy to have some new volunteers giving their time to our cause.  You'll start seeing their work products in our blog and for some of our longer term projects. As usual, I feel blessed to be joined by a team of people who believe enough in our mission to give their time and energy for free.