SALT LAKE CITY A new report says that in 2015, the number of Hispanic students graduating from Utah high schools will be more than double what it was in 2005.
The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education says the Hispanic graduate population will grow by 136 percent. That means Hispanic students would account for about 12 percent of all Utah graduates up from 6 percent in 2005.
"That is a growing demographic, especially in Utah," said Amanda Covington, assistant commissioner for the Utah System of Higher Education. "That, ironically, is also the demographic that is having (one of the) largest educational achievement gaps, not just in Utah but across the country."
The report also says the total number of Utah graduates will increase by 42 percent by 2022, or an additional 13,000 students.
State education leaders say the increasing number of students means that Utah needs to strengthen efforts to prepare students for college.
"If we don't pay attention to it, we'll have a service sector economy with children not equipped to go on to higher education," said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Patti Harrington.
Covington said state officials are working to help minority students enroll in college by improving financial aid and offering outreach programs.
"If we as a state don't ensure they make it through post-secondary education, it won't just impact that population, it will impact every single one of us economically, as a community," Covington said. "We need to take a look at it now and be bold as policymakers and leaders."
Utah's growth is in line with other states in the West and the South, largely because of the regions' strong economies, said Brian Prescott, a senior research analyst with the commission.
Meanwhile, schools in the Midwest and Northeast will likely see declining numbers of high school graduates as their populations drop or move.