Diversity Obscured by Stereotypes
There are about 17 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) in the US, representing 43 or more different ethnic groups. There is as much variation among AAPIs in culture and economic status as there is in when and why their families came to the U.S. (some as refugees with few resources and opportunities, others came to work for US employers that needed their expertise).
But these differences in background have not been addressed in the educational system, where Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) have been lumped together and stereotyped as a "model minority" that is "taking over" US higher education, attending top schools and pursuing degrees in only science, technology, engineering, and math.
In reality, 47.3% of AAPIs in higher education attend community colleges for various reasons. However, current research on AAPIs in higher education, especially community colleges, is limited, and more research is necessary to fully understand AAPIs' educational needs.
AAPI Educational Needs Misinterpreted
For example, over half of AAPI students speak a language or dialect other than English at home, and while AAPIs are highly proficient in English as a whole, this obscures the fact that there is a huge gap between subgroups in terms of language needs.
Because institutions may misinterpret or ignore the needs of subgroups that don't fit into the stereotype, some students may be placed in the wrong English Language classes, or into Special Education classes.
As a result, there are huge disparities in student success among AAPI subgroups.
The Need for Educational Reform
The huge cultural and linguistic diversity of AAPIs requires much more attention, research, and educational reform in order to help them perform their best. Various reports have advocated for more programs and interventions to help increase the persistence and retention rates of the underserved AAPI populations.
Higher education decision makers have traditionally favored interventions that change the student so they are better able to adapt to the institution's processes and structures. Our project, IMPACT AAPI, as well as several other educational projects nation-wide, focuses more on reforming the institution and holding it accountable.
Want to learn more?
Try these articles & links, some referenced above, for AAPI myths debunked, statistics, and research on best practices:
The U.S. Department of Education Steps In
Legislation was passed to designate an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institutions (AANAPISI) program[reference], and in 2008, the Office of Postsecondary Education of the U.S. Department of Education provided approximately $10 million in grants to six Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISI).
The purpose of this new initiative is to support institutions of higher education in their effort to increase self-sufficiency by improving academic programs, institutional management, and fiscal stability.
To be eligible for the AANAPISI designation, an institution must have an enrollment of undergraduate students that is at least 10 percent Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander, where 'Asian American' is defined as:
a person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asian, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam, and 'Native American Pacific Islander' means any descendant of the aboriginal people of any island in the Pacific Ocean that is a territory or possession of the United States.[see reference]
A Qualified Grant Candidate
De Anza College serves Santa Clara County, home to one of the highest concentrations of AANAPIs in the U.S. Approximately 42% of students at De Anza self-report as Asian American or Native American Pacific Islander.
In September 2008, De Anza was awarded an AANAPISI grant.
Curious about this grant? Try these links:
Our 4 Objectives
IMPACT AAPI's goals are to address the educational needs of AANAPI and disadvantaged students by:
How We're Going to Narrow the Gap
We have a multi-faceted approach to support students at different points in the education process, which can be broken down into 3 main categories:
Our projects are integrated together, and also partner with existing De Anza projects. This ensures that students have a cohesive experience and are supported each step of the way with targeted versions of proven programs.
Want more details?
Check out the following links (also available under the 'Our Projects' section in the navigation bar on the left):
Or, contact us with questions or suggestions.
Contact: Tom Izu