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Volume 14, Number 5
September/October 1998

Latino Achievement Reexamined

Researchers seek new ways to help this population succeed in school


Latino children are the largest minority group in U.S. schools, now outnumbering African-American children by 35,000. They are also the most academically troubled racial or ethnic group, with persistently high dropout rates and low test scores. While the nation's overall school completion rate rose steadily during the past two decades, the Latino dropout rate remained at 30 to 35 percent, more than double the rate for African Americans and 3.5 times that for whites. "According to every educational indicator, Hispanic Americans are making progress at alarmingly low rates," concluded President Clinton's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans in a 1996 report.

Researchers looking at why this achievement gap exists have come up with a long list of possible influences, including poverty, discrimination, segregation, the stresses of immigration, frequent language limitations, and poorly educated parents. Yet even when economic backgrounds, immigrant status, and language differences are taken into account, Latino students still have higher dropout rates than other ethnic groups.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.


For Further Information

For Further Information

J.U. Ogbu. "Understanding Cultural Diversity and Learning." Educational Researcher 21, no. 8 (1992): 5-14.

"Our Nation on the Fault Line: Hispanic American Education." Final Report from the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans. Available from the U.S. Department of Education.

H.D. Romo and T. Falbo. Latino High School Graduation: Defying the Odds. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1996.

R.W. Rumberger and K.A. Larson. "Toward Explaining Differences in Educational Achievement among Mexican-American Language-Minority Students." Sociology of Education 7, no. 1 (1998): 68-93.

W.G. Secada et al. "No More Excuses: The Final Report of the Hispanic Dropout Project." Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, February 1998.

M. Suarez-Orozco and C. Suarez-Orozco. Transformations: Migration, Family Life, and Achievement Motivation Among Latino Adolescents. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1995.

University of California Latino Eligibility Task Force. "Latino Student Eligibility and Participation in the University of California YA BASTA!" (Report No. 5), July 1997. Chicano/Latino Policy Project, Institute for Social Change, University of California at Berkeley.