Equity & Diversity

Panel Asks for Action On Hispanic Achievement Gap

By Lynn Olson — April 16, 2003 4 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The nation needs to engage in a concerted push to raise academic expectations for Hispanic students and increase their college-completion rates, according to a report released last week by a presidential commission.

“From Risk to Opportunity: Fulfilling the Educational Needs of Hispanic Americans in the 21st Century” is available online at www.YesICan.gov (English) and www.YoSiPuedo.gov (Spanish). (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

“Hispanic students are being left behind all along the educational spectrum,” said Enedelia Schofield, the principal of W.L. Henry Elementary School in Hillsboro, Ore., who co-chaired the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans. “The present crisis requires all Americans to act now.”

The commission’s 82-page report, released in Hialeah, Fla., says that while Hispanics are now the largest minority population in the United States, one out of every three Hispanics has dropped out of high school. Among those who complete high school, only 53 percent enroll immediately in higher education, compared with 66 percent of non-Hispanic whites. And only about 10 percent of Hispanic Americans actually graduate from four-year colleges and universities.

Hispanics’ lagging rates of educational attainment limit their upward mobility in the labor market, the report says. Only 2 percent of Hispanics earn more than $75,000 a year, it found, compared with nearly 11 percent of non-Hispanic whites.

Among other recommendations, the panel calls for:

  • A national study of how colleges of education prepare teachers to teach reading to children from diverse backgrounds. The commission advocates the creation of an awards program to recognize teacher-preparation programs whose graduates go to work in high-need Hispanic school districts or who are especially effective at closing achievement gaps.
  • A nationwide public- awareness campaign aimed at increasing the college-going rates of Hispanic Americans, similar to that launched years ago by the Advertising Council and the United Negro College Fund, “A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste.” The commission challenged the nation’s higher education institutions to graduate 10 percent more Hispanics from colleges and universities each year over the next decade.
  • A “coherent and comprehensive research agenda” on the educational development of Hispanics from preschool through higher education. “There has not been enough targeted research on Hispanic education,” said Frank J. Hanna, who co-chaired the panel with Ms. Schofield and is the chief executive officer of HBR Capital Ltd., a merchant-banking firm in Atlanta.
  • Better accountability and coordination of programs within the federal government to address the needs of Hispanic children and their families.

The commission did not put a price tag on any of its recommendations.

‘A Disgrace’

President Bush formed the commission in October 2001 to develop an action plan to help close the performance gap between Hispanic students and their non-Hispanic white classmates. The commission heard from more than 1,600 parents, teachers, and experts during its 18-month review.

The 20-member commission called for full enforcement of the “No Child Left Behind” Act of 2001. The reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act requires states, districts, and schools to report test-score data separately for Hispanic students and to demonstrate annual progress in raising their achievement.

“The president and I believe every child can learn, and with the reforms of No Child Left Behind, every child will learn,” Secretary of Education Rod Paige said in a statement on the report. “We’re not letting any more Hispanic kids slip through the cracks. It’s a disgrace. And it’s going to stop.”

But the panel also cautioned that many analyses do not do an adequate job of distinguishing among subgroups within the Hispanic population. Mexican immigrants, for example, experience nearly twice the dropout rate (61 percent) of other Hispanic subgroups.

“This phenomenon is of special concern to the commission given that Mexican immigrants constitute 54 percent of Hispanic immigrants and the largest segment of all immigrants in the United States,” the report notes. “Addressing the educational needs of this large immigrant group will have enormous implications for their children and subsequent generations.”

The report occasionally echoes Mr. Bush’s political agenda of promoting greater parental choice in education and a greater role for faith- based organizations in providing education and other social services.

The commission argues, for instance, that where supplemental services or better public school choices are unavailable to Hispanic parents, as required under the No Child Left Behind law, “the U.S. Department of Education should, in cooperation with the appropriate nongovernmental organizations, stimulate parent consideration and discussion of recent studies that conclude that providing parents with the publicly funded option to send their children to the public or private schools of their choice actually improves public school education.”

In addition, the panelists assert that because religion and community have “played such an important and overwhelmingly positive role in the lives of Hispanic American families,” all federal agencies should “aggressively adhere” to the president’s order to give faith-based organizations equal access to federal grant dollars.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Evaluating Equity to Drive District-Wide Action this School Year
Educational leaders are charged with ensuring all students receive equitable access to a high-quality education. Yet equity is more than an action. It is a lens through which we continuously review instructional practices and student
Content provided by BetterLesson

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Equity & Diversity Reported Essay What the Indian Caste System Taught Me About Racism in American Schools
Born and raised in India, reporter Eesha Pendharkar isn’t convinced that America’s anti-racist efforts are enough to make students of color feel like they belong.
7 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Equity & Diversity Reported Essay Our Student Homeless Numbers Are Staggering. Schools Can Be a Bridge to a Solution
The pandemic has only made the student homelessness situation more volatile. Schools don’t have to go it alone.
5 min read
Conceptual illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Equity & Diversity How Have the Debates Over Critical Race Theory Affected You? Share Your Story
We want to hear how new constraints on teaching about racism have affected your schools.
1 min read
Illustrations.
Mary Hassdyk for Education Week
Equity & Diversity Opinion When Educational Equity Descends Into Educational Nihilism
Schools need to buckle down to engage and educate kids—not lower (or eliminate) expectations in the name of “equity.”
3 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty