Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) students and families face diverse educational challenges, from disparities in accessing high quality educational opportunities to differences in culturally and linguistically appropriate outreach. Although the “model minority” myth focuses on the 51% of Asian Americans over the age of 25 who have a bachelor’s degree or higher level of education (compared to 30% for all Americans over the age of 25), this figure is only 21% for Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. Furthermore, there are striking differences by ethnicity. For example, 94% of Japanese Americans have graduated from high school, compared to 81% of Chinese Americans; 71% of Vietnamese, Tongan and Melanesian Americans; and roughly 62% of Cambodian and Hmong Americans. There also is a range of English language proficiency among AANHPI students. Nearly two-thirds of Asian American elementary and secondary students speak a language other than English at home, and 17% of Asian American students speak English “with difficulty”—ranging from 8% of Filipino American students to 21% of Korean, Chinese, and Japanese American students to 25% of Vietnamese American students.

Recommended Policy Solutions

Support students with diverse needs

Ensure that schools have the capacity to serve AANHPI students with high quality, disaggregated data, increased resources for English Language Learner (ELL) students, and protections for safe schools in the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Increase access to and affordability of higher education, including support of AANAPISIs

Make higher education more affordable and provide increased funding and technical assistance to designated Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs).

Increase access to early childhood education

Provide free, high quality, and culturally responsive public school pre-kindergarten programs and full-day kindergarten programs.

Improve teacher preparation, professional development, and diversity

• Require high quality cultural competency and responsive trainings in all teacher preparation programs and provide all educators and staff with research-based professional development to work with AANHPI students, particularly ELL students and limited English proficient families. • Improve recruitment and retention of AANHPI educators (currently less than 2% of all elementary and secondary school teachers), as well as administrators and staff. • Support full implementation of the Native Hawaiian Education Act that includes meaningful engagement of Native Hawaiian students, families, and community leaders.