NAEP Shows Narrowing Hispanic-White Achievement Gap

The achievement gap between Hispanic and white students in math and reading has narrowed since the 1970s, according to data from a national exam.

The National Center for Education Statistics has released new long-term achievement data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exam. The results examine the reading and math achievement in 2011-12 of 9-, 13-, and 17-year-olds.

Since the 1970s, 9- and 13-year-olds have made significant gains in reading and math — but not 17-year-olds. Since 2008, only 13-year-olds made gains. Since that era, among Hispanics, the only subject with no gains were 9-year-olds in math.

Achievement gaps narrowed because black and Hispanic students made greater gains on exams than white students. For example, the average 9-year-old Hispanic student’s score increased 25 points since 1975, versus a 12-point increase for white students. Gaps narrowed for Hispanic and black students at the 17-year-old age level as well, even though the group as a whole did not make gains.

“There are considerable bright spots, including remarkable improvement among black and Hispanic students, and great strides for girls in mathematics,” David P. Driscoll, the chairman of the National Assessment Governing Board, said in a press release.

The NCES also found that a higher percentage of white students reported reading for fun daily than Hispanic or black students.

Related Links:

– “Achievement Gap Narrows on Long-Term NAEP,” Education Week.

– “U.S. Education Gap Narrows Between Whites and MInorities: Report,” Reuters.

– “The Nation’s Report Card: Trends in Academic Progress 2012,” National Center for Education Statistics.

NCES Report Shows High School Course Gains for Latinos

A new report released by the National Center for Education Statistics sheds some light on the course-taking practices of Latino high school students. In particular, greater numbers of students are taking math and science coursework.

The courses taken changed considerably between 1990 and 2009. For example, the percentage of Hispanic graduates those years who took a calculus course grew from 4 percent to 9 percent.

However, gaps persisted between groups. In 2009, about 42 percent of Asian graduates, 18 percent of white graduates and 6 percent of black graduates had taken calculus.

In addition, the percentage of Hispanics who completed algebra II/trigonometry increased from 40 percent to 71 percent between 1990 and 2009.

In the area of science, Hispanic graduates who had completed a chemistry course increased from 38 to 66 percent.

Programs are working to promote even greater participation in math and science courses by Hispanics. The AP STEM Access Program funded in part by Google intends to expand Advanced Placement courses in hundreds of high schools.

Latinos are underrepresented in AP math and science courses. Latinos in the Class of 2012 made up only about 13 percent of the students who took the AB Calculus exam, for example.

The report, “The Condition of Education 2013,” is a treasure trove of data spanning other areas as well, including test performance, child poverty and postgraduate income.

Try to delve into what courses Latino students are taking in your local school district. If you have STEM magnet programs, how diverse is the enrollment? I expect that promoting STEM among minority students will continue to be a hot topic in the coming years.

Related Links:

– “The Condition of Education 2013,” National Center for Education Statistics.

– “High School Students Taking More Math and Science Courses,” College Bound Blog, Education Week.

– “Grant Expands Access to STEM Courses for Minority Students,” Latino Ed Beat.

– “College Board Reveals Advanced Placement Data on Latinos,” Latino Ed Beat.

Latino Test Performance Varies Significantly by State

It’s often said that the zip code a child is born into is a strong predictor of their future academic performance and the quality of education that they will receive. But perhaps the same can be said about the state where a child is born.

The New York Times recently reported on an analysis by the National Center for Education Statistics of the five states with the largest populations, showing the different performance levels of Latino students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress exam.

Those “mega-states” studied are California, Florida, Illinois, New York and Texas. Th five states enroll more than half of the country’s English language learners, a total of 2.9 million–nearly 1.5 million of whom are in California. They also enroll about 40 percent of the nation’s public school students, or 18.7 million students.

NAEP scores are seen as the best tool by which to compare academic performance across state lines.

One notable headline: California Latino students struggled considerably across the board, while Florida and Texas were strong-performers. While the analysis also shows that Latino students continue to lag white students considerably in performance on the tests (full report here), there was considerable variation in Latino performance between states.

The percentage of Latino eighth-graders performing at the proficient level or above in math in 2011 are below, with Texas leading the nation:

California: 13%, Florida: 22%; Illinois: 19%; New York: 13%; Texas: 31%; Nation: 20%.

And the performance of Latino eighth-graders proficient or higher in reading in 2011, in which Florida and Illinois led the nation:

California: 14%; Florida: 27%; Illinois: 23%; New York: 20%; Texas: 17%; Nation: 18%.

The performance of fourth-graders proficient or higher in math, in which Florida and Texas leading:

California: 17%; Florida: 31%; Illinois: 20%; New York: 20%; Texas: 29%. Nation: 24%.

The performance of  Latino fourth-graders proficient or higher in reading was as follows in 2011, with Florida leading:

California: 12%;  Florida: 30%Illinois: 18%; New York: 20%; Texas: 19%; Nation: 18%.

And here is the performance of Latino fourth-graders proficient or higher in science in 2009, with Texas and Florida leading:

California: 8%; Florida: 23%; Illinois: 10%; New York: 13%; Texas: 16%; Nation: 13%

And the performance of Latino eighth-graders proficient or higher in science, with Texas leading the nation:

California: 11%; Florida: 24%; Illinois: 11%; New York: 12%; Texas: 23%; Nation: 16%.

Jack Buckley, commissioner of the NCES, said there was no “consistent pattern among these states,” The Times reported. And that, “each state seems to have areas where it shines and others where they lag behind its counterparts.”

The analysis includes the data broken out by other racial/ethnic categories and factors such as income and ELL status.

Learn more about the analysis of performance in the top five largest states here.

Related Links:

– “Test Scores of Hispanics Vary Widely Across 5 Most Populous States, Analysis Shows,” The New York Times. 

– Mega-States: An Analysis of Student Performance in the Five Most Heavily Populated States in the Nation. 









Latino High School Graduation Rate Sees Large Increase

The National Center for Education Statistics has released a new report showing a huge increase in Latino high school graduation rates. The rate increased to 71.4% in 2010, up from 61.4% in 2006.

The report shows more positive outcomes for all students. About 78.2% of students graduated on time within four years in 2010. The report also breaks out data by state.

Jack Buckley, director of the NCES, told The Huffington Post that the last time the country had a similarly high graduation rate was in 1968. The NCES put out its first such report in 2005, but made estimates dating back to the 1970s.

“This is the highest estimated rate of on-time graduation,” Buckley said.

Despite those gains, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, said while there has been much progress, still more is needed.

“…Our high school dropout rate is still unsustainably high for a knowledge-based economy and still unacceptably high in our African-American, Latino and Native American communities,” he said in a statement.

Nevada reported the worst rate for Latinos in 2010, at 47.2%. Meanwhile among the states with the nation’s two largest Latino populations, Texas reported a significantly higher graduation rate than California. Texas reported 77.4%, and California, 71.7%.

Some of the 2010 rates for Latinos in other states with large Latino populations included Arizona, 70.6%; Colorado, 65.9%; Florida, 71.1%; Illinois, 76%; New Mexico, 65.3%; and New York, 60.7%.

Related Links:

– “Graduation Rate Hits Record High for High School Students: Government Report,” The Huffington Post. 

– “Public School Graduates and Dropouts from the Common Core of Data: School Year 2009-10,” National Center for Education Statistics. 

– “Latino High School Graduation Rates up 10%,” Fox News Latino. 

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.

English Language Learners with More Educated Mothers Fare Better on Assessments

New longitudinal data released by the National Center for Education Statistics shows that regardless of whether a child begins kindergarten as an English language learner or not, children with the most highly educated mothers generally score best on math, reading and science assessments as eighth-graders.

In addition, children who spoke English as their dominant language or began kindergarten proficient in English despite the language spoken in their homes performed better as eighth-graders on the three subject tests than students who began kindergarten with limited English skills.

In the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, NCES tracked a sample of the kindergarten class of 1998-99 through eighth grade, and found that about 12 percent of the children surveyed spoke a language other than English at home. The majority –but not all–of ELLs in the study came from Spanish-speaking homes.

English language learners whose mothers had a bachelor’s degree or higher and who reached English proficiency by spring of their kindergarten year scored  better on math and reading exams as eighth-graders than children whose mothers had less than a high school education.

Hispanic children with limited English skills were more likely to be living in poverty with less-educated mothers. Those children took longer to reach English proficiency and struggled more with assessments.

According to the April report, about 59 percent of ELLs who were not English proficient by spring of their kindergarten year had a mother with less than a high school education. Just three percent of ELLS who were not proficient by kindergarten had a mother with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

For comparison, 35 percent of ELLS who were English proficient by spring had mothers with less than a high school education and 17 percent had mothers with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

The study defined English proficiency based on children’s scores on the Oral Language Development Scale, which measures listening comprehension, vocabulary and ability to understand and produce language. The report cautions that English proficiency as defined in the study may differ from how a school defines proficiency due to different methods used.

The report is pretty data-heavy; you can view it here.

The message is that a mother’s education level is very important to determining a child’s future educational success. What sorts of programs in your community are trying to better educate Spanish-speaking mothers so their children are more prepared for kindergarten?