New report finds high dropout rates among Asian subgroups in California

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A new report commissioned by Southland State Assemblyman Mike Eng indicates big differences between the education achievement of Asian-Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.

University of California researcher Lois Takahashi said the findings dispel the model minority myth that Asian-Americans and related ethnic subgroups are high achievers in public schools and college. Particularly troubling, she said, is the data about Hmong immigrants from Southeast Asia. Almost half of Hmong adults in California don’t have high school diplomas.

"The other, I think, stark and sort of troubling finding," says Takahashi, "in terms of educational attainment, is that Pacific Islander students in grades 9-12 have very high dropout rates, about one-fifth estimated to drop out between grades 9-12 in the state of California, so that rate is very similar to Latino dropout rates."

Researchers concluded that these problems require attention even though people of these ethnicities aren’t a large proportion of the state population. Takahashi and others involved in the study hope the state can do a better job gathering data about Asian-American and Pacific Islander subgroups to better identify education problems and target resources.