‘Children’s Report Card’ Grades California

A new report card grading the well-being of California’s children concludes the state has a long way to go if it wants to earn an “A.”

The advocacy group Children Now has released the “2014 California Children’s Report Card: How Kids are Doing in Our State and What Needs to Be Done About It,” which grades the state on 27 indicators. The grades are based around issues related to education, health and child welfare.

The majority of the state’s public school students are Latino.

Among the different grades assigned in the education section:

— The report gives the state a “C+” on preschool. It reports that 39 percent of Latino 3- and 4-year olds are enrolled in preschool, and recommends that the state provide access to high-quality preschool programs to all children. It finds that California lags other states in inspections of its preschool programs.

— The state receives a “B-” on transition to and readiness for kindergarten programs. The report recommends stronger ties between preschool and kindergarten programs that include aligning curriculum and joint professional development. It recommends a state kindergarten readiness assessment to better inform educators, policymakers, teachers and parents.

– The report assigns the state a “D” for K-12 investments, concluding that California schools are “chronically underfunded.” The report acknowledges progress is being made, as the 2013-14 budget will allow for a $2.8 billion or 5 percent increase in year over year funding.

– The report awards a “B-” on school finance reform, in reference to the state’s new local control funding formula (LCFF) that is intended to provide more equitable funding for students. The school funding reform change will provide more funding for English Language Learners, low-income and foster children.

– The study gives the state a “B-” on the state’s implementation of the Common Core State Standards.

– The state is given a “D+” on its Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs. The report points out that only 67 percent of the state’s eighth graders met state science standards in 2013, including 56 percent of Latino students.

– The state is given a “D” on teacher training and evaluation. It recommends that the state update its standards on awarding teaching credentials and establish stronger evaluation systems.

Related Links:
“2014 California Children’s Report Card,” Children Now.
“No More Excuses: As California rebounds, invest in kids,” EdSource.
“Well-Being of California Children Lags, According to New Study,” Contra Costa Times.

Eva Longoria Funds UCLA Study on Latinas and Education

Latina teens who are bilingual, have Hispanic teachers and counselors, and are involved in extracurricular activities have a stronger likelihood of attending college, a new study has found.

The report, “Making Education Work for Latinas in the U.S.,” was conducted by The Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at the University of California, Los Angeles, and commissioned by the actress Eva Longoria and her foundation.

Longoria’s foundation focuses on boosting education and entrepreneurship among Latinas. She hopes to use the report’s findings to better help Latinas.

Civil Rights Project co-director and education professor Patricia Gandara highlighted the importance of raising the education levels of Hispanic women.

“Latinas are the linchpin of the next generation — how a child fares in school is highly correlated with their mother’s education,” Gándara said in a news release. “If the cycle of under-education is to be broken for the Latino population, it will depend to a large extent on changing the fortunes of young women.”

Latinas benefit from involvement in extracurricular activities, which promote increased self-esteem. However, they face barriers to being more involved at school that include money, transportation issues, family needs and not feeling included.

The study shares that many Latinas enroll in non-selective two-year colleges because they are not aware of the greater opportunities at more selective four-year universities. Students who enroll in community college are less likely to graduate with degrees.

The paper includes the success stories of seven young Latinas. One of the young women recalled the influence of a Hispanic counselor.

“She was a person who really influenced me to want something more with my 
life because she would tell me that because I was a Latina that I would be stereotyped..you don’t want to prove people right,you want to prove them wrong! You want to be able to say ‘I’m Latina and I’m going to college and I’m furthering my education!”

Related Links:

“UCLA Study Funded by Eva Longoria IDs Factors That Improve Educational Outcomes for Latinas,” UCLA Newsroom.

“Making Education Work for Latinas in the U.S.,” The Civil Rights Project at UCLA.

The Eva Longoria Foundation

Study Measures Stress Levels Among Hispanic Parents

Hispanic parents who are recent immigrants experience higher levels of stress than U.S.-born Hispanic parents and immigrant parents who have been in the United States for a longer period of time, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Overall, poor parents experience more stress than affluent parents. According to a news release, the findings were based on interviews with several thousand parents beginning one month after the birth of a child, and then at intervals until up to two years of age. Most of the parents were near or below the federal poverty level, defined as $23,550 for a family of four in 2013.

“The abundance of stress for poor parents is clear, potent and potentially toxic for them and their children,” said Chris Dunkel Schetter, a UCLA psychology professor and the study’s lead author. “Both mothers and fathers who were poor and members of an ethnic or racial minority group reported higher financial stress and more stress from major life events like death and divorce than those who were either just poor or just part of a minority group.”

According to the news release, stress was caused by issues such as parenting, finances, violence, deaths and racism. Stress was measured in a variety of ways, which included blood pressure and body mass index measurements.

The study found that low-income Latino parents were less likely than white or black parents to feel that their lives are uncontrollable and overwhelming. They also reported less stress from major life events.

Related Links:
“Study of Young Parents Highlights Links Among Stress, Poverty and Ethnicity,” UCLA Newsroom.

Report Measures Trends in Child Well-Being

The Annie E. Casey Foundation has released its annual Kids Count report evaluating child well-being in the United States.

The report delves into areas such as economic security, education, health, and family and community. The online resources are comprehensive — offering the national and state-by-state perspective, in addition to data broken out by race and ethnicity.

According to the report, small gains have been made in the areas of education and health. However, income inequality and high unemployment are hurting well-being.

The report stresses that high-quality preschool programs can improve academic outcomes for children. However, only about 46 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds are in preschool.

The child poverty rate was about 23 percent in 2011, with the youngest children being the poorest. The report defined the poverty line as $22,811 for two adults and two children.

According to the report, child well-being can be improved with more programs that teach parents how to be their child’s first teacher and offering more high-quality preschool programs.

The report reported further data, and here are some interesting statistics about Latino children:

– ABout 63 percent of Hispanic three- and four-year-old children were not attending preschool — more than any other group.

– About 34 percent of Hispanic children lived in poverty in 2011.

– About 39 percent of Hispanic children had parents lacking secure employment in 2011.

– About 11 percent of Hispanic teens were not in school or not working in 2011.

– About 29 percent of Hispanic high school students did not graduate on time in 2009-10.

– About 42 percent of Hispanic children were in single-parent homes in 2011.

The states were also ranked based on well-being, with New Mexico ranked last overall. Other states with significant Latino populations included Arizona (47), California (41), Florida (38), Illinois (23), New York (29) and Texas (42).

Related Links:

2013 Kids Count Data Book, Annie E. Casey Foundation

What Type of Research Is Needed On ELLs?

The U.S. Department of Education is requesting proposals for research studies that would address how to better meet the needs of students who are English Language learners.

In an item appearing in the Federal Register, the department indicates interest in instructional approaches, assessments and training for educators. Written submissions are due by October 9.

The request also seeks studies that could improve meeting the needs of teachers and administrators who work with ELLs.

“The Department anticipates making use of this information to inform the development of our evaluation and research agenda in the coming years and to guide future evaluation and research studies addressing the needs of [ELLs],” the listing reads.

Additionally, the department is interested in ELLs who fall into categories including students with disabilities, middle and high school students and immigrant students with limited formal education.

Other topics of interest include using technology in instructing ELLs, using academic language to promote language acquisition and data collection strategies.

Another earlier announcement in the Federal Register requested guidance on how to improve technical services related to ELLs for educators and state officials.

Learning the Language blogger Lesli Maxwell pointed out that the requests have come amidst concerns that the education department has not addressed the ELL population’s needs.

In particular, some educators are concerned that the National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition (NCELA), did not provide particularly current and useful information on how to help ELLs.

Related Links:

– “Request for Information to Inform the Title III Evaluation and Research Studies Agenda,” Federal Register.

– “English-Learner Research: Ed Dept. Looking for Guidance,” Learning the Language Blog, Education Week.

– “Ed. Dept. Seeks Feedback on Supporting English-Learners,” Learning the Language Blog, Education Week.

– National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition (NCELA)

Report: Latina Teen Pregnancy Rate is Falling

The teen birth rate for Latinas has fallen dramatically within the last few years, according to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Between 2007 and 2012, the teen birth rate for Latina teenagers ages 15 to 19 fell by 39 percent — the largest drop of any group. In 2012, there were 46.3 births per 1,000 Hispanic teens.

That’s still considerably higher than the average for all teenagers. The birth rate for all teenagers dropped by almost one-third, to 29.4 births per 1,000 teenagers ages 15 to 19.

In 2012, there were 305,420 babies born to teens ages 15 to 19. According to the study, that’s the fewest since the close of World War II.

Additionally, the teen birth rate fell by 7 percent between 2011 and 2012.

“The stunning turnaround in teen births is truly one of the nation’s great success stories of the past two decades,” Sarah Brown, CEO of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, said in a news release. “Clearly, progress can and has been made on a pressing social problem that many once considered intractable and inevitable.”

– “Births: Preliminary Data for 2012,” National Vital Statistics Reports.

– “Teen Birth Rate Declines: What’s Going Right,” ABC/Univision.

– “Teen Birth Rate Declines Among Latinas in ‘Stunning Turnaround’,” Fox News Latino.

– “Teen Birth Rate Cut in Half,” The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

Latino College Enrollment Surges as Overall Enrollment Falls

Higher numbers of Latinos are enrolling in college than ever before — even as overall college enrollment in the United States is falling.

The findings were released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Tuesday. The number of Hispanics enrolled in college increased to 3.4 million in 2012, an increase of 15 percent over the previous year, Reuters reported. Hispanic students now make up 17 percent of college students.

Meanwhile, overall college enrollment fell by about 2.3 percent, to 19.9 million. Much of the decline came from older students.

The Pew Research Center details other recent positive news contained in the report. The Hispanic high school dropout rate is falling. In 2012, about 15 percent of Hispanics ages 18 to 24 had not completed high school. The percentage in 2000 was significantly higher, at 32 percent.

“Overall, the Hispanic dropout rate is falling more quickly than any other racial or ethnic group, resulting in a closing of the gap between Hispanics and blacks, white non-Hispanics and Asians,” Pew noted.

The Census Bureau report found that 49 percent of Hispanic high school graduates ages 18 to 24 are enrolled in college, compared with 47 percent of whites. Immigrant students and children of immigrants made up about 32 percent of college students.

More students are in the pipeline. About 24 percent of elementary school students in the U.S. are Hispanic.

The news is encouraging, but there still is a long way to go to close the education gap, demonstrated by another recent report by Pew focusing on the low college attainment rates of Latinos. The college attainment levels vary widely depending on which state you reside in.

An analysis of Census data by the Pew Research Center provides a state-by-state breakdown on the bachelor’s degree attainment rates of Latinos ages 25 and older in 2011. The national average for all Hispanics was 13.4 percent.

On the high end of the list was the District of Columbia (36.2 percent). The low end was Nevada (8.1 percent). Many of the most heavily Hispanic states fall under the national average. They include California (10.7 percent) and Texas (12.0 percent). Florida was an exception (20.4 percent).

The source of data was the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011 American Community Survey data. It’s important to note that these number include immigrants with low levels of education from their home countries.

As you may recall, last May Pew released a study showing that a higher percentage of Hispanic high school graduates in the Class of 2012 (69 percent) enrolled in college than white graduates (67 percent).

Related Links:

– “After a Recent Upswing, College Enrollment Declines, Census Bureau Reports,” United States Census Bureau.

– “Hispanic Enrollment in U.S. Colleges up 15 Percent,” Reuters.

– “Among Recent High School Grads, Hispanic College Enrollment Rate Surpasses that of Whites,” Pew Research Center.

– “D.C., Virginia and Maryland Have the Highest Shares of College-Educated Latinos,” Pew Research Center.

– “Hispanic High School Graduates Pass Whites in Rate of College Enrollment,” Pew Research Center.

Report: Latino Students in Rhode Island Struggling

Rhode Island may not be a state that comes immediately to mind when the challenges of Latino students are discussed.

But the state has a rapidly growing population, especially in its larger cities. While other states have large Mexican origin populations, Rhode Island tends to draw from other groups such as Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Colombians, and Guatemalans.

A new report finds that the academic achievement gap between Latino and white students in Rhode Island is among the worst in the nation, and English Language Learners in particular are struggling mightily.

According to the study, about 22 percent of the state’s public school students are Latino, but only about 1.5 percent of teachers are Hispanic.  Latino students now are 63 percent of the student enrollment in Providence, 72 percent in Central Falls and a sizable number in Pawtucket. Additionally, on average Latinos in the state earn less than those elsewhere in the country.

The Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University released a report looking at Hispanic achievement in the state, entitled “Latino Students in Rhode Island: A Review of Local and National Performances.” 

The researchers analyzed the results of two assessments to make their findings — the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP).

The report singles out the Providence schools as having the greatest need to reform its programs for ELL students. It also recommends creating a statewide ELL task force to identify best practices. The study emphasizes the need to increase the number of Latino teachers and principals in the state.

“The study is fair and long overdue,” the superintendent of the Central Falls school system, Frances Gallo, told the Providence Journal. “I don’t consider it an indictment, I consider it a reality.”

According to the report, the achievement gap on the NAEP exam between Latino and white students on fourth and eighth grade math exams is among the ten worst in the nation. They also score lower in math and reading when compared against Latino students elsewhere in the country. Meanwhile, white and black students do not fare as poorly when compared to peers nationally.

Additionally, eighth grade math achievement for ELLs in the state ranks last in the country. Additionally, Rhode Island state officials say that the dropout rate for Latinos is about 20 percent, compared with a 10 percent dropout rate for white students.

Education officials are trying to make improvements. Central Falls is requiring that all teachers become ESL certified. And in Providence, ELLs will not only be segregated in ESL classes all day long, the Journal reported.

Related Links:

– “Report: Gaps Between R.I.’s Latino and White Students’ Achievement Are Among Worst in Nation,” Providence Journal.

– “Latino Students in Rhode Island: A Review of Local and National Performances,” Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University.

Survey Finds Parent School Preferences Vary By Ethnicity

A survey of parents of school-age children finds that their views of an “ideal” school often vary by race, ethnicity and economic status. The Thomas B. Fordham Institute surveyed more than 2,000 parents a year ago online for the “What Parents Want” study.

Despite differences, parents across different backgrounds agreed on core “must haves” such as a strong reading and math curriculum and emphasizing STEM (science technology, engineering and math) programs.

Elsewhere, the parents diverge.

Hispanic, black and low-income parents viewed an ideal school as having high test scores and strong preparation for the state exams more so than white and affluent parents.

Hispanic and black parents focused less on prioritizing learning good study habits and self-discipline than white parents. But minority parents were more likely to say that they wanted their child to be admitted to top tier colleges.

The report offers further details on how parents rated various factors.

Related Links:

– “Parents Favor ‘Niche’ Schools, Fordham Institute Market Study Finds,” Education Week.

– “What Parents Want: Education Preferences and Trade-Offs,” Fordham Institute.

Texas Study Finds ELL Students Face “Triple Segregation”

In Texas, poor Hispanic children who are English language learners often attend intensely segregated schools, a new study has found.

Such children face “triple segregation” because they are isolated by virtue of their ethnicity, socioeconomic background and language skills. The trend is found in both urban and suburban settings.

Education professors Julian Vasquez Heilig and Jennifer Jellison Holme from the University of Texas at Austin examined 2011 demographic data from the Texas Education Agency to make their findings in their study, “Nearly 50 Years Post-Jim Crow: Persisting and Expansive School Segregation for African American, Latina/o and ELL Students in Texas.”

The AP reports that in 2012, about 838,000 limited proficient children attended Texas schools. They made up about 16.2 percent of the total enrollment. In 2011, about 9 percent of Texas schools were found to be majority ELL, with most of those being elementary schools. The study reveals that of Texas schools with a majority ELL enrollment, 89 percent have a study body that is majority economically disadvantaged.

However, the study found a bright spot. Majority-ELL elementary schools were more likely to earn the state’s top ranking of “exemplary” than to be rated low-performing. The researchers found 72 “exemplary” and 15 low-performing majority-ELL elementary schools in Texas, noting that “the state should be applauded for these numbers.”

However, the researchers cautioned that those same children tend to go on to attend low-performing middle and high schools. And ELLs have very high dropout rates in Texas.

Researchers point out that Texas has a long history of segregating its Hispanic children. At first, this was accomplished by placing them in separate schools. Texas schools were targeted with lawsuits because of such practices long before the Brown v. Board case. Later, the state segregated children by placing them in separate classes within a school.

As a reporter, I visited many schools that had “triple segregation.” In Texas, bilingual education is required for ELLs when there is a large enough population and by nature of the program these children are placed in separate classes. Do bilingual programs inherently segregate? Are there benefits at all to this, however? The study acknowledges that this question has come up in debates over the instructional program.

“As the first-generation cases were resolved, the friction between bilingual education and desegregation became more apparent, as courts and districts sought to balance the need, on the one hand, to offer linguistically appropriate instruction for subgroups of students who do not yet speak English, and the danger, on the other hand, that such practices could result in racial and linguistic isolation of those students,” the study says.

Lastly, segregation has increased as overall districts and communities have become residentially segregated. Much of the residential segregation growth is happening in the suburbs.

This study is fascinating because it goes a step beyond racial segregation and examines a new type of segregation that has arisen based on linguistic isolation. It’s conversation worth having. It also raises the question, how does attending a segregated school impact how children learn English? And in a majority minority state such as Texas, are these trends just part of the demographic shift?

Related Links:

– “Study Shows Texas Segregated By Language,” Associated Press/Fox News Latino.

– “Study Shows Triple Segregation Persists in Texas Schools,” News Release, The University of Texas at Austin College of Education.

– “Nearly 50 Years Post-Jim Crow: Persisting and Expansive School Segregation for African American, Latina/o, and ELL Students in Texas.”

– “Cloaking Inequality” Blog (By Julian Vasquez Heilig)