Arizona has major racial and ethnic gaps in access to education and attainment levels, according to a report by the Arizona Minority Education Policy Analysis Center.

Since 2004, racial and ethnic minorities have represented an increasing majority of students in Arizona’s primary and secondary schools. In 2012, Hispanics surpassed whites to become the largest ethnic group.

The policy report said that, despite their growing proportion of the student population, minority students fall behind in attainment in a number of areas.

Dropout rates over the last few years have increased across the board, but American Indians, Hispanics and African Americans face a higher risk dropping out. Meanwhile, Asian Pacific Americans and whites persistently pass the AIMS test at higher rates than American Indians, African Americans and Hispanics.

The report said that “sustaining Arizona’s educational status quo undermines the state’s economic future by framing its growth populations as dispensable”.

During a presentation to state legislators, Everardo Martinez-Inzunza, the policy center’s chairman, noted a close link between income and attainment.

“But what we find also though, if you look at the income for the families, 9 percent of the white population had children under poverty, while 24 percent of the Hispanic population had children under poverty."

The report makes a number of recommendations, including increasing teacher diversity and enhancing cultural competency in primary and secondary education. It also calls on the Arizona Board of Regents and community colleges to set goals for graduation rates for each specific race and ethnicity, with the aspiration of reaching parity between groups.