Report Finds Federal Funding for ELLs Not Keeping Pace with Need

Federal funding of English language acquisition state grants is not keeping up with the pace of inflation, a new report has concluded.

The grants offer states and school districts help with developing curriculum and expanding teacher training for English language learners, among other things.

The “Children’s Budget 2012” report from the First Focus advocacy organization expresses concerns that President Obama’s fiscal year 2013 budget freezes funding for such programs at about $732 million. Although that funding level is the same as the previous year, the report concludes that it represents a roughly 2.2 percent funding decrease over the previous year when inflation is considered. Between 2008 and 2012, the highest funding level was in 2010, at about $750 million.

“Given that achievement gaps still persist between ELL and non-ELL students, leveling the funding fails to adequately meet the need of the rapidly growing ELL population,” the report says. “Therefore, as the President’s request misses an opportunity to move the nation closer to meeting the needs of these students and the schools serving them, a more significant investment remains essential.”

The study looks at federal investment in numerous programs that affect children, including education, housing, health, safety and child welfare. The president’s 2013 fiscal year budget would increase federal spending on programs affecting children by about one percent from the current level.

The news isn’t all negative: First Focus found that government spending on children increased by about 17.5 percent between 2008 and 2012 in real terms. Part of that increase is due to passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Related Links:

– “Children’s Budget 2012.” First Focus.

– Early Education Initiative. New America Foundation.

– “Kids Count 2012.” The Annie E. Casey Foundation.

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Kids Count Report Finds 32 Percent of Hispanic Children Live in Poverty

The annual Kids Count report by The Anne E. Casey Foundation finds that Latino children are significantly more likely than white children to live in poverty.

Hispanic children are also the least likely of any racial or ethnic group to attend preschool, are more likely than white or black children to lack health insurance and are the most likely of any group to be in a family where the household head lacks a high school diploma.

The report evaluates child well-being in every state and found that the two states with the largest population of Latino children rank near the bottom of the list of states. Texas is ranked 44th, and California, 41st.

The foundation says declines in child well-being can have dire consequences  for the United States’ future. In 2010,  32 percent of Hispanic children live in poverty, compared with 13 percent of white children, 38 percent of black children and 14 percent of Asian children. That year, a family of two adults and two children fell into the “poverty” category if their annual income was below $22,113–the federal definition varies based on family size.

“Millions of children are growing up with risk factors that predict that they will not succeed in the world they will inherit,” the report says. “And, if they don’t succeed, this country will become increasingly less able to compete and thrive in the global economy, thereby affecting the standard of living and the strength of our nation for all of us.”

Here are some other key data from the report on Latino children:

  • Between 2008 and 2010, about 63 percent of Hispanic children did not attend preschool. By comparison, about half of black and white children didn’t attend preschool.
  • In 2010, about 14 percent of Hispanic children lacked health insurance, compared with about 6 percent of white children and 7 percent of black children.
  • In 2010, about 37 percent of Latino children lived in families where the household head lacked a high school diploma, compared with 7 percent of white children and 15 percent of black children.
  • Between 2006-10, about 19 percent of Latino children lived in high-poverty areas, compared with 3 percent of white children and 27 percent of black children.
  • In 2010, about 41 percent of Hispanic children were living in single-parent households, compared with 24 percent of white children and 66 percent of black children.
  • In 2010, About 40 percent of Hispanic children’s parents lacked secure employment, compared with 25 percent of white children and 49 percent of black children.
  • In 2009, there were 70 teen births per 1,000 female Hispanic teens compared with 25 among white teens and 59 among black teens.
  • In 2011, about 82 percent of Hispanic children were not proficient in reading and 80 percent of eighth-graders were not proficient in math.
  • One bright spot was that  in 2009, Hispanic children were the least likely to be low-birth weight and were also below the national average. About 6.9 percent of babies were low birth-weight, compared with about 13.3 percent of black babies.

You can localize this story to your state, and community. Where is poverty growing, and how are school districts dealing with the increase and their changing student populations?

Related Links:

– “2012 KIDS COUNT Data Book: National and state-by-state data on key indicators of child well-being.” The Annie E. Casey Foundation.

– KIDS COUNT data by state. 

– “Child poverty on the rise.”  The Huffington Post.

– “Annual Study Finds Child Education, Health Improving.” Education Week.

Researchers to Create Science Curriculum for Latino Pre-K Students

Researchers at the University of California Santa Barbara are working on creating a health and biology curriculum for Latino preschool students with the help of a $1.2 million award from the National Institutes of Health.

The university reports that the curriculum’s goal will be to teach low-income Hispanic 4- and 5-year olds who are English language learners. The children will learn about topics such as food and nutrition. They will also learn about cold and flu prevention, and practices such as the importance of washing hands to prevent illness.

The university said the children will also learn about how to approach science through questioning, developing explanations and also making predictions.

“With the project, we’re also trying to develop information-seeking and explanatory discourse skills so when the preschool children get to kindergarten, they’re comparable to their peers,” lead investigator Laura Romo said in a press release.

Romo is an associate professor in the department of education at UCSB and is director of the university’s Chicano Studies Institute. She will work on the curriculum with the Santa Barbara Head Start program.

Beyond concepts, the researchers hope to learn what sort of language support the preschool ELLs need to develop their academic language and also learn content at the same time.

Related Links:

– “UCSB Receives $1.2 million NIH Grant for Preschool Health, Biology Curriculum.” UCSB.

Survey: Latinos Are Reluctant to Borrow Money for College

A recent survey shows that Latinos are more reluctant than black or white families to borrow money to pay for college. Sallie Mae’s recent National Study of College Students and Parents, “How America Pays for College 2012,”  revealed some interesting other interesting attitudes among Hispanics as well.

The San Antonio Express-News recently highlighted the findings. The newspaper spoke with Mario Escalera, a University of Texas at San Antonio student, who said his family feared borrowing. He’s a first-generation college student who was raised by his Mexican grandparents.

“Because they had no credit, they never saw loans as an option,” Escalera, 27, told the newspaper. “It was always working hard for your money, saving it and buying what you wanted in cash.”

Many Hispanic immigrant families may be accustomed to relying on cash. That reluctance places them at risk of not finishing their degrees.

Some points in particular stuck out to me in the Sallie Mae study of 1,601 undergraduate  students and their parents. Across all groups, it found that on average family spending on college declined by five percent.

Some other findings are highlighted below:

  • About 40 percent of Latinos said the family borrowed funds, compared with 51 percent of blacks and 43 percent of whites. Borrowing includes loans and other types of credit, including student or private loans, home equity or credit cards.
  • Latinos were much more likely than other groups to live at home while in college to save money. About 69 percent of Latinos either lived at home or had a child living at home to make college more affordable, compared with 55 percent of blacks and half of 50 percent of white students.
  • Latinos were less likely to receive scholarships from state (government) sources. About 18 percent of Latinos received state fund assistance, compared with 24 percent of whites and 42 percent of blacks.
  • In the 2011-12 year, about 21 percent of Latinos said they had not filled out a FAFSA federal financial aid application, compared with 15 percent of black students and 18 percent of whites.
  • About 52 percent of Latino families said they used some of the parents’ savings to pay for college, compared with 51 percent of blacks and 60 percent of whites. That included, parent income, college savings fund (such as 529 plan), retirement savings withdrawal (401K, Roth IRA or other IRA), or other investments and savings
  • Latinos were more likely to report that they were attending two-year public institutions such as community colleges, with 40 percent doing so, compared with 31 percent of black students and 29 percent of whites.

The survey focused on college students 18-24 and their parents.

Related Links:

– “How America Pays for College 2012.” 

– “Many Latinos shun borrowing for school, research shows.” San Antonio Express-News. 

– “Students pay increasing share of college costs.” U.S. News & World Report.

Latino and Black Students Underrepresented at Top Colleges, Says Study

A new report by Stanford University researchers shows the proportion of Latino students enrolled at top universities barely budged between 1982 and 2004. In fact, the racial disparities given the growing diversity of the country’s population have worsened.

White students are three times as likely as Hispanic students to enroll in a highly selective university.

The researchers at the Center for Education Policy Analysis found that in 2004, students admitted to very selective schools were 72.5 percent white, 12 percent Asian, 7 percent Latino and 3.5 percent black. Meanwhile, that year the high school graduating class was 60 percent white, 14.5 percent black, 16 percent Latino and four percent Asian.

In 1982, the proportion of Latino students enrolled in highly selective colleges wasn’t much different. At that time, about 6 percent of students were Latino and 5.6 percent were black.

Researchers attributed the problem to growing income inequality, tuition growth, a widening achievement gap by income and fiercer competition for admission to top colleges. However, they said the enrollment disparities are not due to achievement gaps, which they believe have narrowed for black students, but could result from the elimination of affirmative action policies. Another recent report found that affirmative action policy bans have reduced the diversity of graduate programs.

In addition, they found that the students were underrepresented even when controlling for family income. They say that if students are admitted based on being among the top ten percent of graduates in their states, as Texas does, the diversity would actually decline.

The report concludes:

“Changes in who applies to college, which colleges they apply to, how colleges determine whom to admit (including if and how they use race and race-related factors in admissions decisions), and where students decide to enroll (which depends in part on tuition costs and the availability of financial aid, as well as on students’ perceptions of how well colleges’ academic offerings and social climate fits their needs) all may play a part in the increasing underrepresentation of black and Hispanic students at the most selective colleges and universities. These college decision processes, as well as the persistent racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps, must change if highly-selective colleges and universities are to enroll more diverse classes of students.” 

They designated highly selective universities based on ratings from the Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges guides, which schools from a 1-7, with 1 being the most selective. Barron’s bases their ratings on high school GPAs, class ranks, SAT/ACT scores and proportion of students admitted. Researchers considered a 1 most competitive and a 2 as highly selective, and considered the diversity of students enrolled in those two categories of schools in the study.

Researchers found it interesting that the most selective universities (level 1) had slightly more diverse enrollments, by income and race, than those at the second level.

The study comes as the Supreme Court is poised to take on the issue of affirmative action admissions to universities with consideration of the Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin case.

Related Links:

-“Race, income, and enrollment patterns in highly selective colleges, 1982-2004.” Center for Education Policy Analysis, Stanford University. 

– “Minority Enrollment: Black and Hispanic Students Underrepresented at Highly Selective Colleges, Stanford Study Finds.” Huffington Post.

– Center for Education Policy Analysis at Stanford University.

Affirmative Action Bans Reduced Graduate School Diversity

The Civil Rights Project at UCLA has released a new study finding that affirmative action bans in several states reduced the enrollment of Latino, black and Native American students in graduate programs.

It’s notable that the states cited have significant diversity among their populations–California, Florida, Texas and Washington. The report’s release comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to hear the Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin case regarding race-based admissions.

Unlike this report, most studies on the impact of affirmative action bans tend to examine the impact on undergraduate admissions.

The research found that  since the bans, first-year graduate students enrolled who are black, Latino and Native American students dropped by an average of 12 percent. In engineering programs the drop was significantly greater, at 26 percent.

The study excludes international students and professional law and medical programs. The decline in natural sciences programs was 19 percent, in social sciences about 16 percent and about 12 percent in humanities. The research did not find a significant impact on business program enrollment.

Before the bans, graduate students of color made up about 9.9 percent of the overall enrollment of graduate degree programs. Their enrollment is now about 8.7 percent of the graduate student population. Students in the minority groups went from about 6.2 percent of engineering students to 4.6 percent of engineering students.

“Contrary to our nation’s best interests, these declines in the enrollment of students of color are taking place not only while the racial and ethnic diversity of the U.S. population is increasing but also when the U.S. is experiencing a chronic shortage of scientific manpower,” the organization says.

The study notes that the minority students tend to the score lower on standardized tests such as the GRE, hurting their admissions chances. It also questions whether the bans have affected students’ decisions whether to even apply to and enroll in programs in these states.

The study was conducted by George Washington University assistant professor Liliana Garces using data from the Council of Graduate School/Graduate Record Examination Survey of Graduate Enrollment and Degrees.

“These declines in racial and ethnic student body diversity create hurdles for universities, making it more difficult for them to further their educational missions and meet the economic needs of the country,” Garces said in a press release.

Four other states also ban affirmative action–Arizona, Michigan, Nebraska and New Hampshire.

Related Links:

– The Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at UCLA.

– “Bans on Affirmative Action Shown to Reduce Enrollment of Graduate Students of Color at Universities in CA, FL, TX, WA.” The Civil Rights Project/Liliana Garces.

– “Justices take up Race as a Factor in College Entry.” The New York Times.

Study: 23 Percent of Undergraduates Are Immigrants or Have an Immigrant Parent

A new analysis by the National Center for Education Statistics shows that in 2008, about 23 percent of  the country’s 22.3 million undergraduate college students were immigrants or had at least one immigrant parent. The vast majority of those students are Asian and Latino.

About 10 percent of the college students were immigrants, and 13 percent were second generation. Their enrollment rates varied considerably between states, with the largest populations in California, New York and Texas.

Latino students made up the largest ethnic group who were second-generation college students, representing 41 percent of students in that category. In contrast, Asian students made up the largest group of immigrant students at 30 percent of that pool.

Overall, about 66 percent of all Latino college students  and 90 percent of Asian college students are immigrants or second-generation Americans, compared with 10 percent of white Americans. Latinos are more likely than Asians to be second-generation, with about 45 percent of Latino undergraduates being second-generation Americans. About 21 percent of Latino undergraduates are immigrants, compared with 55 percent of Asian undergraduates.

The immigrant Asian and Latino students were more likely to be 24 and older, while the majority of second-generation students were 23 or younger. The Asian and Latino students in the two groups were also more likely to come from low-income backgrounds than the overall rate among undergraduates.

Latino and Asian students differed significantly in their parents’ backgrounds and college choices.

Hispanic immigrant and second-generation students were much more likely to have parents who did not attend college than Asian students, with 55 and 54 percent of their parents having not attended college.

They also were much more likely to attend community colleges than all undergraduates. Of the immigrant students, 54 percent attended community college, compared with 51 percent of the second-generation students, 44 percent of all undergraduates and 40 percent of Asian second-generation students. In addition, about 12 percent of the Latino immigrant and second generation students were also enrolled in for-profit colleges, a higher rate than the U.S. student average. The Latino students were also more likely not to  be full-time students. These characteristics are important to note because these types of students (for-profit and part-time) are less likely to graduate or move on to a bachelor’s degree.

The Latino students also had other factors that made them at-risk of not completing. Those Hispanic immigrant or second -generation students under the age of 30 took fewer advanced math courses in high school, such as precalculus and calculus and also took more remedial courses in college.

I’ve blogged before about the big recent push to enroll more Latino students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs). The data show that  about 14 percent of Latino  immigrant and second-generation students had STEM-related majors, compared with 25 percent of Asian immigrant and second-generation students. Latinos were more likely to enroll in general studies, social sciences or education than the Asian students.

The researchers clarified that they don’t sort the data by the age of the immigrant students when they entered the United States or the students’ immigration statuses. They also excluded students reporting that they or their parents were from Puerto Rico.

Related Links:

– “New Americans in Postsecondary Education: A Profile of Immigrant and Second-Generation American Undergraduates.” U.S. Department of Education and National Center for Education Statistics.

– National Postsecondary Student Aid Study.

– National Center for Education Statistics.

Mother-Daughter Program Urges More Latinas on to College

In 1986, University of Texas at El Paso professor Josie Tinajero took a look around and noticed very few Latinas graduating from college. So that year, she created the Mother-Daughter Program; she realized that mothers play a pivotal role in their daughters’ educational choices and decided to include them in the college preparatory program.

“The most important role models for young girls, especially in the Hispanic community, is found with the family system,” Tinajero told The Deseret News this week. “Hispanic mothers have a huge impact on how their daughters make decisions.”

The program focuses on sixth-grade girls. About 500 mother-daughter teams meet monthly for various activities focusing on issues such as personal, career and academic goals. They tour university facilities, perform community service and hear presentations from successful Hispanic women.

The program seeks to build the girls’ self-esteem while directing them toward higher education. In addition, by involving mothers it increases parental involvement and awareness of higher education. Because of the program’s success, a father-son program also has been launched.

“The program is a success because we are addressing this problem as a community,” Tinajero said in the story.

Program leaders say it has even inspired mothers to pursue their own educational goals. That’s especially important, given that recent data released by the National Center for Education Statistics found children with more educated mothers tend to perform better on math, reading and science assessments as eighth graders.

Do you know of any similar programs in your area that focus on parent relationships? I also wanted to mention another program doing similar work in Austin, Texas. The Con Mi Madre (with my mother) program  serves more than 700 girls in the 6th-12th grades annually also offers support to prompt more girls to pursue higher education.

Related Links:

– “Moms key in Hispanic women going to college.” Deseret News.

– Mother-Daughter Program – The University of Texas at El Paso.

– “Losing the fear: UTEP reaches out to families.” El Paso Times.

– “Hispanic girls face special barriers on road to college.” Education Week.

– Con Mi Madre – Mothers and Daughters Raising Expectations.

Report Profiles College Faculty Working to Increase Latino STEM Participation

The Center for Urban Education at the University of Southern California has been releasing a series of reports about the need to increase the number of Latinos in STEM careers. The studies are supported by the National Science Foundation, which wants to spur more Hispanics to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The most recent report, “Developing the Capacity of Faculty to Become Institutional Agents for Latinos in STEM,”  emphasizes that beyond special programs targeting Latinos, individual university leaders or faculty often make the difference in increasing enrollments. Researchers interviewed 60 representatives of two- and four- year Hispanic-Serving Institutions.

The report profiles two faculty members. The first is a university college of engineering dean who wanted to boost the number of Latino transfers from the local community college. He understood the students’ backgrounds because he, too was a first-generation Latino college student. He worked to bring together STEM faculty from the college and university to create a STEM curriculum and transfer agreement.

“Rather than focus solely upon fostering change at his own institution, [the dean] used his influence and authority to create a formal curriculum relationship between the two schools for the benefit of Latino students in the area,” the CUE report notes. “Curricular articulation agreements are notoriously difficult to draft because of academic governance practices and the sheer number of stakeholders involved; they thus require substantial commitment on the part of institutional leaders who must mobilize others to reach agreements and complete the necessary work.”

In a second case, the study mentions a mathematics professor and department chair at a four-year Hispanic-Serving Institution in the Southwest. He noticed fellow faculty were frustrated dealing with Latino students who struggled with lab work. He created a “Summer Lab Boot Camp,” to expose Latinos to computer science, biology, chemistry and physics labs. In addition to preparing them for lab classes before they enrolled, the program also created a sense of community.

“[He] understands that not all faculty members may have the patience, awareness, or interest to assist students who need the extra support,” the report says. “The program initiated students into the culture of science and gives them a headstart.”

The center makes a number of recommendations for program administrators including that faculty be rewarded who support Latino students, faculty be diverse, and that faculty include Latino students in undergraduate research opportunities or conference presentations; and that student data be disaggregated by ethnicity.

The science foundation is pushing forward its agenda to push more students into these majors. But The Washington Post recently highlighted that pushing them into PhD programs in these areas may not be the best idea, since there aren’t necessary jobs there. Not all STEM careers are created equal, and some tracks can be more lucrative than others, such as engineering.

Related Links:

– “Developing the Capacity of Faculty to Become Institutional Agents for Latinos in STEM.” Center for Urban Education. 

California Releases Draft of New English Language Learner Standards

The California Department of Education has released a proposed set of K-12 English Language Development standards created for use with the state’s large population of public school students who are English language learners.

The draft standards are now available online for public review and comment. The State Board of Education is expected to act on the recommendations by September.

The standards are meant to be applied to ELL students regardless of the program they are enrolled in–whether they are in a mainstream classroom or a bilingual program. They are also meant to be a complement to the English language arts Common Core standards.

Education Week’s Lesli Maxwell notes that the standards come at a significant time, because California is one of several states trying to win a federal grant to design a new English language proficiency test.

The goal is to create standards that are simpler and higher than those currently used. The documents outline three English proficiency levels: emerging, expanding and bridging. There are also specific grade-by-grade standards provided.

“This goal is that EL(L) students read, analyze, interpret, and create a variety of literary  and informational text types,” the proposal reads. “They develop an understanding of how language is a complex,  dynamic, and social resource for making meaning and how content is organized in different text types and disciplines using text structure, language features, and vocabulary, depending on purpose and audience.”

The document mentions the challenges facing long-term English language learners, who have been in the system for five or more years. Legislation  calling for revised standards spurred development of the new proposal.

Related Links:

– English Language Development Standards, California Department of Education.

– “California works on new English-language development standards.” Learning the Language blog. Education Week.