While Latinos make up the majority of California’s public school students, they continue to lag white students on academic achievement measures.
California may have more experience working with Latino students than other states, but that hasn’t translated into better academic returns. The Associated Press points out that Hispanic students often attend poorly funded schools with larger class sizes and fewer academic courses.
The article notes that only about one out of every four Hispanic sophomores don’t pass the state’s high school exit exam, compared with one in 10 white students.
But there are some success stories. The AP reports that the agricultural area where the Sanger Unified School District is located is making progress with the children of migrant farmworkers are improving. The article notes that Sanger was once a failing district.
A report by the Bay Area Research Group found that the district began to improve after spending time on changing its culture — offering more teacher training, for example. The district created its own testing system to analyze the effectiveness of its instruction.
The study detailed how Sanger changed its culture, including going from following textbooks to addressing student needs and from professional isolation to collaboration.
What can we learn from California about what works for Latino students and what doesn’t?