College & Workforce Readiness

New Study on Hispanic Achievement Paints Stark Picture

By Lesli A. Maxwell — November 29, 2011 3 min read
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UPDATE: I did a quick Google news search to see who else might be writing and discussing the Council of the Great City Schools’ report on Latino students. I came across one interesting take on a blog called Latina Lista.

Blogger Marisa Treviño found a statement about immigration in the study that I missed and it’s a really important one to bring to everyone’s attention. The study says that Hispanic students “face constant suspicions about whether they are in the country legally.”

I’d love to get all of you who teach Latino students, especially those who are English-language learners, talking about this issue and how you think it is impacting their achievement. Please discuss.

A brand-new study examining the nation’s fastest-growing population of students—Hispanics—is out today, and the findings are pretty bleak.

The Council of the Great City Schools has just published “Today’s Promise, Tomorrow’s Future: The Social and Educational Factors Contributing to the Outcomes of Hispanics in Urban Schools,” which takes a close look at how Hispanic students in urban school systems are faring compared with their white peers nationally.

The report also delves into the achievement of Hispanic students who are formerly English-language learners and compares how they are doing with their Hispanic peers who are ELLs and their Hispanic peers who are not.

Among the key findings, according to researchers with the council:

•When it comes to “readiness to learn,” Hispanic children face several disadvantages compared with their white peers. Thirty-three percent of Hispanic children in 2008 lived in families where no parent had full-time employment compared with 21 percent of white children. And in 2007, 27 percent of Hispanic children lived in poverty compared with 10 percent of white children. Those factors and others translate to Hispanic children being less likely than their white or black peers to recognize letters of the alphabet, knowing how to write their name, or being able to count to 20 or higher.

•On the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Hispanic and ELL proficiency rates in reading from 2003 to 2009 were at least 26 percentage points below the rates for white students in 4th grade and 24 percentage points below white students’ in 8th grade. For math in those same years, the proportion of Hispanic students performing at or above “proficienct” was at least 29 percentage points lower than for white students in 4th grade and 26 points lower in 8th grade.

•The average scores for Hispanic students who were former ELLs were significantly higher than their Hispanic peers who were ELLs in both subjects.

•Overall, reading and math achievement for Hispanics and Hispanic ELLs on NAEP in certain large city school systems was generally lower than their respective peers in public schools nationally. But some urban systems were an exception—Austin, Texas; Miami-Dade; and Houston among them—and generally produced higher scores in 2009 among Hispanic and Hispanic ELLs than their peers in other large cities.

•Hispanic students in 2008 were much more at risk of dropping out than their white and black peers: 21/2 times more likely to drop out than white students and almost twice as likely as black students. And in 2010, fewer than two out of 10 Hispanic students took an Advanced Placement exam compared with six out of 10 white students.

The council makes no recommendations for how to tackle these difficult issues for Hispanic students, but does intend to bring together a panel of leaders to brainstorm and provide advice on how to improve the school experience and outcome for them.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.