College & Workforce Readiness

What K-12 Can Do to Ease the Latino College-Completion Gap

By Catherine Gewertz — May 14, 2010 1 min read

College completion rates among Latino students are stagnant at very low levels, a troubling indicator of lackluster future choices for those students, and of needed improvement in the K-12 system, a new paper from WestEd argues.

(Adding fuel, a paper by the Pew Hispanic Center finds that Hispanic high school dropouts are less likely to earn a GED than are black or white dropouts. See my colleague Mary Ann Zehr’s blog for more on the Pew report.)

The WestEd paper, by UCLA’s Patricia Gándara, argues for a number of policy supports that straddle the worlds of education, housing and social services. In education, she advocates early and ongoing cognitive enrichment work, at home as well as at school, that capitalizes on Latino students’ language and content knowledge. This approach views Latino students’ cultural and language skills as assets rather than impediments to learning.

Gandara also discusses the importance of recruiting and training good teachers into two-way bilingual education programs, and ensuring a broad approach to college preparation that includes not only academic work, but financial aid advice and peer support.

While you’re at it, you might take a look at some of WestEd’s other policy papers. In line with this blog’s coverage of college readiness issues are David T. Conley’s look at how K-12 education should be restructured and reconceptualized to prepare kids for college, and E.D. Hirsch Jr.'s look at why our education system has a “knowledge deficit.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.