Thousands of students of color in Connecticut are underserved by the state’s education system, experts say. In particular, Black and Latino high school students are enrolling in advanced courses at lower rates than white students.

Though data about college readiness is made public through the state’s Department of Education, it’s difficult to analyze, as fewer than two dozen school districts across Connecticut had data that wasn’t entirely or partially suppressed for confidentiality reasons due to a low number of Black and Latino students either enrolled in advanced coursework and/or receiving end-of-year scores that would guarantee college credit.

In 20 districts analyzed, only Hartford, Waterbury and New Haven school districts responded to interview requests regarding the gaps in access and disparities in success rates for Black and Latino students enrolled in college readiness courses. 

Most of the districts with full post-secondary readiness data overwhelmingly educate students of color. But even in those districts, white students occupied the most seats in college-level classes. 

In seven of the state’s 10 districts with the most students of color — Hartford, Bridgeport, East Hartford, New Haven, Waterbury, New London and Meriden — the enrollment rate in advanced classes for white students outpaced the rate of Black and Latino students by up to 20 percentage points.

In districts with more integration, where the student body was almost evenly split between white and nonwhite students, including South Windsor, West Hartford, Bristol, Vernon and Middletown, the combined enrollment gap between white and Black and Latino students in advanced coursework was around 6.7%.

Countless organizations and researchers have analyzed the causes of such disparities across American schools for decades. At one point, a highly controversial report considered genetics as the sole factor of the achievement gap and educational outcomes. It has since been debunked as data instead show that the performance of students of color, particularly in higher-level classes, is a result of factors like systemic or implicit bias, teacher support and expectations, climate and school funding.

The Education Trust‘s advanced coursework tool, which uses data from 2015-16, shows that in Connecticut, nearly twice as many Black and Latino students would have to be enrolled in AP classes for fair representation.

Read more: How CT’s college-readiness system leaves students of color behind