There are nearly a million Black undergrad college students in the U.S., according to research by the USC Race and Equity Center, with the states if Kansas and Missouri having the worst graduation rates among the 50 states. Both schools scored less that 1.70 in the study, with 4.0 being the highest ranking, according to KansasCity.com. Most schools earned around a 2.0 — a middling grade of C — not good enough to get a transfer student admission to the University of Missouri, where a 2.5 GPA is needed. No school included in the study earned a score above a 3.5. But area school administrators say they have addressed inequities in recent years by hiring top diversity leaders and launching initiatives to attract and retain African-American faculty and students. “Black Students at Public Colleges and Universities,” authored by USC professor Shaun Harper and research associate Isaiah Simmons, graded 506 schools in 50 states, not including historically Black colleges and universities, military academies or tribal colleges. Using U.S. Census and U.S. Department of Education data, they scored schools based on a number of factors: the percentage of Black students compared to the percentage of Black people 18- to 25 years old in the state; the graduation rate of Black students; the number of Black women versus Black men in the student body; and the ratio of Black students to Black faculty. Among states, Massachusetts had the highest overall score, 2.81. Among schools, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts scored highest with a 3.5. As many as 200 colleges and universities were given scores below 2.0. In this region, Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville scored a mere .75, landing it among the 35 lowest-scoring schools in the nation. University of Missouri-Kansas City tied with University of Missouri-St. Louis with a 2.25, the highest score among the 11 public schools in the state. University of Missouri in Columbia scored 1.75. Among the seven public universities governed by the Kansas Board of Regents, the University of Kansas racked up the highest overall score, 2.25, helped by its ratio of Black students to Black faculty. The other six schools received scores of 1.7 or 1.2. KU was the only Kansas public university to be given an A grade in any category. “I think that this makes painstakingly clear that the failure is systemic. It’s not just a handful of institutions,” Harper said.