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While the Latino student population is rising and more Latinos are earning higher-education degrees, high dropout rates from high school and low college-attendance rates persist, the American Council on Education reports.

Latinos represented 6 percent of public high school graduates in 1991, but their 35 percent dropout rate was much higher than that of white or black students, a new A.C.E. report notes.

Making Latino educational achievement more difficult, the study asserts, is the fact that Latinos are more likely than any ethnic group except American Indians to be considered "at risk.'' Nearly 23 percent of Latino 8th graders had repeated a year of school--also the second-highest percentage of any ethnic group.

Only 23 percent of Latino 8th graders planned on taking a college-preparatory program in high school, compared with 37 percent of Asians, 31 percent of whites, 25 percent of blacks, and 17 percent of American Indians. But more than half of the Hispanic students expected to finish college.

By 2020, Latinos are projected to be the nation's largest minority group, the report points out. The 1990 Census found that Hispanics made up 9 percent of the total U.S. population.

Copies of the report are available for $10 each from the A.C.E. Division of Policy Analysis and Research, 1 Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C. 20036-1193; (202) 939-9450.

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