New NCLR Web Tool Provides Detailed Data on Latino Children

The National Council of La Raza has a new online web tool that allows users to delve into detailed data on the well-being of Latino children across the country.

The Latino Kids Data Explorer breaks down information by numerous searchable categories including education, health, juvenile justice, citizenship status and family structure/income. Data can be further broken down by age, year and state.

For example, in the education category, users can search data including the percent of eighth graders below basic proficiency in math and reading, the percentage of children whose children read to them fewer than three times a week, and participation rates in preschool.

In a separate fact sheet, Building a Brighter Future 2012, the group cites the significant barriers to educational success that Hispanic children face. NCLR cites a number of factors, including higher rates of poverty and a greater likelihood to lack health insurance. Hispanic children also have lower rates of preschool attendance and are less likely to be read to by their parents than other groups. The group considers the report a call to action–and promotes a focus on improving Hispanic children’s access to quality early education programs.

The group uses the power of numbers to highlight the importance of improving outcomes for Latino children. Between April 2010 and July 2011, Latinos made up 26 percent of all babies born in the United States. Hispanic children ages zero to eight years old make up a little more than 25 percent of all children in the age category. Another statistic may surprise people who assume that Latinos are disproportionately made up of immigrants–the group says that about 92.4 percent of Latinos ages zero to 17 are U.S. citizens.

“If today’s young Latino child is not adequately prepared to enter the workforce ready to compete in the global economy, then our nation is neglecting an important segment of the population crucial to our future growth and economic success,” cites the fact sheet released by the organization.

Related Links:

– Building a Brighter Future 2012: “Young Latino Children–Ready to Learn and Lead?” National Council of La Raza.

– Latino Kids Data Explorer. National Council of La Raza.

– “New Online Resource Provides Data Tables on Latino Children.” Learning the Language blog. Education Week. 

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Education is Top Issue for Latino Voters

Education hasn’t been one of the top issues being discussed in the run up to the presidential election. But for Latino voters, it is perhaps the most important issue.

A recent survey by the Pew Hispanic Center shows just how important. Pew surveyed 1,765 Latino adults from throughout the country by telephone between Sept. 7 and Oct. 4. The group included 903 registered voters.

About 55 percent of Latino registered voters said education was extremely important to them, followed closely by jobs. Only about 34 percent of Hispanic voters said immigration was extremely important.

About 89 percent of the Latino adults surveyed (and 86 percent of registered Latino voters) said they supported President Obama’s deferred action plan, which will allow undocumented immigrant youth who grew up in the United States and meet certain requirements to stay in the country legally to study and apply for work permits. About 31 percent of Hispanic adults (and 26 percent of Latino registered voters) said they know someone who has applied for deferred action.

The same survey found that 69 percent of the Latino registered voters surveyed supported President Obama and 21 percent supported Mitt Romney.

This isn’t the first time a survey has found education to be a top concern. A poll by the Federation for Children and the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options released in May found that 58 percent of Latinos agreed that “we need to hear more from the presidential candidates on how they will improve education.”

For registered voters, the margin of error was plus or minus 4.6 percentage points.

Related Links:

– “Latino Voters Support Obama by 3-1 Ratio, but are less certain than Others about Voting.” Pew Hispanic Center.

– “Latino Voters Rank Education as a Top Issue.” Latino Ed Beat.

Latino Students Play Pivotal Role in Texas School Funding Case

As Texas’ school funding system went on trial this week, former state demographer Steve Murdock testified in court on Tuesday that the significant challenges ahead facing Latino children require a greater investment from the state.

The Legislature cut more than $5.4 billion from the education budget last year, representing a cut of $500 per student, reported the Dallas Morning News. At the same time, the state has phased in more rigorous standards and tougher exams.  Hundreds of districts sued the state, demanding more adequate funding.

About 53 percent of Texas public school children are now Latino. They also are much more likely to come from poor families, requiring greater investment from the state, Murdock argued.

“Our future is increasingly tied to the minority population–how well they do in terms of education will determine how well Texas does in the future” Murdock said, according to a report in the Morning News.

Murdock listed off the demographic changes the state is experiencing: over the last decade the white student population dropped by 10 percent and the Hispanic population increased by 50 percent. By 2050, he estimates that Texas public school students will be about 64 percent Latino and 15.5 percent white.

As Texas students become more Hispanic, they also are becoming poorer and more in need of academic and financial support. About 27 percent of Texas Latinos live below the poverty line–compared with 9.5 percent of whites.

Murdock has played a key role in Texas for years as a figure who has called attention to the fact that the educational outcomes for Latinos must improve for the state to stay economically strong in the future. He once told the Texas Tribune that given the state’s demographics, “the Texas of today is the U.S. of tomorrow.”

Related Links:

– “Educating Hispanics crucial for state, demographer testifies in lawsuit.” The Houston Chronicle.

– “Demographer warns of increasing education costs as Latino population rises.” Austin American-Statesman.

– “Texas public schools require more funding to serve Hispanics, expert testifies in finance trial.” The Dallas Morning News.

– “Texas, school districts square off in finance trial.” The Dallas Morning News.

Miami-Dade Schools Win Prestigious Broad Prize

The Miami-Dade County school district has won the prestigious Broad Prize for Urban Education–in part due to the district’s success in improving the graduation rates and academic achievement of Latino students.

The prize recognizes school districts that have successfully closed achievement gaps for minority and poor students.Last year, about 66 percent of Miami-Dade’s total enrollment was Hispanic–representing 230,556 students. Some 187,815 students in the district reported speaking Spanish as their primary language.

The notable successes with Latino students include:

– The high school graduation rates for Latino and black students were higher than in other large urban districts. Between to 2006 and 2009, the graduation rate for black and Hispanic students increased by about 14 percent— to a rate of about 68 percent for Latino students. (The rates were calculated based on the averages of three recognized graduation rate calculation methods). Other urban districts increased their rates by smaller margins between those years.

– In 2011, the percentage of the district’s Latino students performing at the highest levels on state exams–levels 4 and 5—ranked in the top 30 percent statewide.

– Between 2008 and 2011, the SAT participation by Latino students increased 6 percent and the scores increased by 15 points.

The Miami Herald reported that Superintendent Alberto Carvalho attributed the district’s success to several changes in recent years, including the expansion of magnet programs, focusing on collecting performance data, placing focus on struggling schools and bringing in support such as Teach for America.

The Herald also noted that the Broad Prize review team cited the district’s data collection as impressive, in addition to its focus on improving outcomes at low-performing middle schools and preparing students at an early age for higher education.

The other districts that were finalists also have large Latino student populations: Palm Beach County schools in Florida, the Corona-Norco Unified School District in Southern California and the Houston Independent School District.

Miami won $550,000 in college scholarships for high school seniors graduating in 2013. The district has been nominated and named a finalist for the prize four times previously.

Related Links:

– “Miami-Dade school district wins Broad Prize, top national education award.” The Miami Herald.

– “2012 Broad Prize Awarded to Miami-Dade County Public Schools.” News Release.

– Broad Prize for Urban Education web site.

Report: Preschool Can Narrow Achievement Gap for Latinos

The school readiness gap between Latino and white children could be significantly narrowed if more Hispanic children enrolled in high quality preschool programs, researchers say in an issue of  The Future of Children journal that is dedicated to the topic of literacy.

The journal is produced by Princeton University and the Brookings Institution. In “The Role of Out-of-School Factors in the Literacy Problem,” Jane Waldfogel writes that  increasing Latino children’s access to preschool and improving Head Start programs would improve school readiness for Latinos.

She also notes that parent intervention programs that encourage reading in the home can also help improve children’s literacy skills.

“For children from socioeconomically disadvantaged homes, the evidence is quite strong that differences in parenting are important in explaining early literacy problems, and thus that parenting programs that promote reading and other literacy-related activities in the home in early childhood may help boost literacy,” the paper notes.

Related Links:

– “Literacy Challenges for the Twenty-First Century.” The Future of Children.

– “Latino access to preschool key in narrowing Hispanic-white gap, says study.” NBC Latino.

– “Hispanic Kids Lag Without Early Literacy Support: Study.” National Journal/ The Next America.

Latinos Boost Enrollment at Mass. Universities

New numbers show that Latino students are driving public college and university enrollment growth in Massachusetts, the  Boston Globe reports.

Between 2008 and 2011, Latino enrollment increased by 50 percent at the state’s public colleges and universities, compared with an enrollment increase of 7 percent for non-Latinos. The increase in Massachusetts’ overall college enrollment comes even as the number of high school students in the state is falling. The number of older students, ages 25 or older, is also fueling growth.

“The data tell an important story, namely that many of our campuses continue to see remarkable growth while also serving as critical gateways for under served populations,” said Richard M. Freelance, state commissioner of higher education, the newspaper reported.

Private colleges are also making inroads in Massachusetts.

Over the summer, NBC Latino reported on some of the successful efforts being made by Massachusetts private colleges to recruit more Latinos. Wheelcock College in Boston has promoted partnerships with K-12 schools. In one program, college students mentor boys in grades 4 and 5. Amherst College tries to encourage more Latino students to visit campus and connect with Hispanic students who are already enrolled.

In your state, is Latino college enrollment growing? And what efforts are colleges taking to recruit more Hispanic students?

Related Links:

– “Latinos, older students fuel enrollment growth at Massachusetts’ public colleges, universities, report says.” The Boston Globe. 

– “More Latinos attending Mass. public college.” The Eagle-Tribune

– “Colleges in Massachusetts increase Latino student enrollment – here’s how.” NBC Latino.

“Abriendo Puertas” Program Gives Latino Parents a Boost

A new study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, highlights a program that is helping Latino parents to work with their young children to prepare them for school.

The study looks at the “Abriendo Puertas” parent program, which is being used by Head Start, the Los Angeles Unified School District, and is expanding nationally. It already has sites in 31 states serving 22,000 families. Many Hispanic children enter school already behind academically and developmentally, and the program aims to close those gaps.

Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors is taught in Spanish or English and is composed of ten sessions that focus on topics including early learning, communication, nutrition, parents as advocates and using the library. Participants are parents with children of ages zero through 5 years old.

Principal investigator Margaret Bridges of UC Berkeley said that the program has proved effective because the interactions parents have with their children at a young age determine how prepared they will be when they enter school.

The research was based on  a survey given to parents before and after completing the program, and was taken by 623 parents in 35 different programs. About 85 percent of parents surveyed were immigrants, mostly from Mexico.

A survey given to parents showed that they improved their knowledge about early learning and brain development. They also increased their knowledge about how to help their children be successful at school and how to develop literacy.

When parents were asked seven questions about how to help young children be successful in school about 12 percent of parents answered correctly before taking part in Abriendo Puertas, and 77 percent answered correctly after completing the program.

Parents also reported feeling much more confident about their parenting skills after taking part in the program.

“Parents have a real hunger for information that will enrich their parenting, and they have indicated that Abriendo Puertas has been an invaluable resource,” said Sylvia Puente, executive director of the Latino Policy Forum, in the report. “Parents, organizations and schools have expressed tremendous gratitude for having this incredible program available in Spanish.”

Other programs with similar parent involvement efforts include HIPPY and AVANCE.

Related Links:

– “Survey shows program boosts Latino parents’ child knowledge, confidence.” UC Berkeley News Center.

– Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors Network. National Head Start Association.

Fla. Sets Lower Achievement Goals for Latinos than White Students

There’s no question that an achievement gap still exists between white and Hispanic students. But does that mean goals for Latino students should differ from those set for white students?

The Florida State Board of Education recently set goals for black and Latino students that are lower than those set for white and Asian students. That decision — to set academic proficiency goals that differ by race and ethnicity —  is stirring controversy, reports the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Officials set benchmarks for the percentages of students they want to be at or above their math grade level by 2018:  74 percent of blacks, 80 percent of Hispanics, 86 percent of white students and 92 percent of Asian students.

They set similar goals for students to be at or above reading at grade level: 74 percent of blacks, 81 percent of Hispanics, 88 percent of whites and 90 percent of Asian students. The paper reports that currently only 53 percent of Hispanic students are reading at grade level, compared with 69 percent of white students.

Goals are also set lower for English language learners.

The differences in goals prompted officials from the Urban League to criticize the race-based goals. But state officials say they are useful.

“Of course we do want every student to be successful,” Florida Department of Education spokeswoman Cheryl Etters told the newspaper. “But we do have to take into account their starting point.”

The Daily Record reports that some board members expressed concern before the goals were voted on.

“If Asians can have a goal of 90 percent in reading, why can’t whites, and other subcategories?” the paper reported member John Padget as saying. “So I would just ask my fellow board members if we are happy with the signal this sends.”

Related Links:

“Florida public school students will be judged in part by race and ethnicity.” South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

“Fla. education board OKs race-based academic plan.” Daily Record.

Washington State Legislators Want Financial Aid for Undocumented College Students

Washington State provides undocumented immigrant college students in-state tuition, and now some state lawmakers are pushing to provide more financial assistance to undocumented students.

The Seattles Times reports that Wash. State Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, said in a statement that he plans to push for state-funded financial aid for undocumented immigrants.  California, New Mexico and Texas make state aid available to undocumented college students. Undocumented students are not eligible for federal financial aid.

“I feel so strongly about the justice and need for this that I plan to make passage one of my top legislative priorities in 2013,” Murray said in the statement.

The proposal could be a tough sell amidst a tough economy. And the  newspaper reports that about 32,000 students eligible for Washington’s State Need Grants are not receiving assistance because there’s not enough money.

Related Links:

– “Legislators to seek state aid for undocumented students.” The Seattle Times.

– “College Board releases resource guide for undocumented immigrant students.” Latino Ed Beat.

– “Students in Texas Illegally are Eligible for State Aid.” The Texas Tribune.

– “Jerry Brown signs California Dream Act.” The Los Angeles Times.

Miami Prepares For Impact Of Common Core Standards On ELLs

School districts around the country are scrambling to phase in the Common Core State Standards. The consensus seems to be that more teacher training and professional development is needed, especially because the new standards are much more rigorous.

But are districts considering their English language learner population as they phase in the changes?

I recently wrote a piece about how the Miami-Dade Public Schools are trying to address how the changes will impact ELLs. The district held training about the common core and ELLs for 200 teachers in the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program over the summer. In addition, the school district has developed pacing guides for teachers that include notes on how lessons can be adapted for ELLs.

“We are modeling for the teachers how to make the instruction very explicit and very concrete,” said Beatriz Pereira, executive director of bilingual education and world languages at Miami-Dade. “The standards are extremely high.”

In Miami, the common core standards have been implemented in kindergarten through third grade. Miami-Dade has about 70,000 ELL students district wide.

Some teachers feel there needs to be more training on how to teach ELLs–not just for ESOL teachers, but also for core subject area teachers and teachers who are not solely dedicated to teaching ELLs.

“The common core standards for ELLs sound great,” said Gustavo Rivera, a history teacher at Miami Springs High School and member of the Hispanic Educators Committee of the United Teachers of Dade. “It’s all very nice until you get to the area of application. How do you apply them? That, to me, is the most worrisome.”

You should ask your local district about the training they are offering to teachers on the common core–and if any time is spent addressing how the standards impact ELLs. Is the school district putting time into addressing the group?

EWA hosted a conference  last week about the impact of the common core on ELLs along with the University of California, Berkeley, and Stanford University’s “Understanding Language” initiative.  Click here to view videos from the seminar. To read tweets from the conference, look up the hashtag #ewaell.

Related Links:

– “Common Core and ELLs: Lessons from Miami.” Education Writers Association.

Understanding Language. Stanford University.

– Colorin Colorado

– Council of the Great City Schools.