ERIC Identifier: ED449288 Publication Date: 2001-02-00
Author: Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education New
Latinos in School: Some Facts and Findings. ERIC Digest Number
The number of Latino children and youth in public schools in the U.S. is
steadily increasing. Currently, one third of the Latino population is under age
18. Latino students comprise 15 percent of K-12 students overall, a proportion
projected to increase to 25 percent by 2025. Although Latinos have high
aspirations, their educational attainment is consistently lower than that of
other students. Latino student achievement is compromised by a variety of
factors, including poverty, lack of participation in preschool programs,
attendance at poor quality elementary and high schools, and limited English
In order to help education policy and decision makers better respond to the
strengths and challenges of the growing Latino school population, this digest
presents key information about the current educational status of Latino
students. One of an ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education series consisting of
facts about specific student groups, the digest is based on Latinos in
Education, a report by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for
Hispanic Americans. The report, fully cited at the end of the digest, contains
additional statistics as well as sources for the information.
LATINOS IN PRESCHOOL
* Latinos under age 5 are less likely
to be enrolled in early childhood education programs than other groups: 20
percent, as compared with 44 percent of African Americans and 42 percent of
whites. Urban and suburban rates for Latinos are nearly the same.
* The enrollment of Latino children in preschool increases with increases in
parent educational attainment. Fewer Hispanics age 25 or older complete high
school than do African Americans and whites, however. Enrollment also increases
along with increases in family income. But here, too, Latinos, with a median
family income of $28,000, lag behind the $39,000 median income of the population
* While 36 percent of Latino children live in poverty, only 26 percent attend
Head Start programs, which are designed to remedy the effects of poverty on
* Although children three to five years old may start school better prepared
to learn if they are read to, only 65 percent of Latino children are read to,
compared to 75 percent of African Americans and 90 percent of whites.
* Seventy percent of preschool teachers assert that they are not fully
prepared to meet the needs of students with limited English proficiency or from
diverse cultural backgrounds. Such lack of preparation can seriously impede the
quality of Latino children's preschool education.
LATINOS IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
* The enrollment of Latinos in elementary schools increased 157 percent
between 1978 and 1998. Latinos comprise 15 percent of the elementary school-age
* Nearly 50 percent of Latinos attend urban schools. They comprise
one-quarter of the student population in central city schools.
* Latino students attend schools with more than twice as many poor classmates
as those attended by white students: 46 percent compared with 19 percent.
* Disparities between Latino students and others begin as early as
kindergarten and remain through age 17. Latinos perform below their non-Hispanic
peers in reading, mathematics, and science proficiency by age 9. Overall, they
consistently perform below the national average in the National Assessment of
Educational Progress (NAEP).
* Latinos comprise three-quarters of all students enrolled in Limited English
Proficient (LEP) programs, although not all Latino students have limited English
* Fewer Latinos than other students have access to a computer at home or
school, despite the fact that computers are an essential tool: 68 percent use a
computer at school (compared with 70 percent of African Americans and 84 percent
of whites), and only 18 percent use one at home (compared with 19 percent of
African Americans and 52 percent of whites).
* Only about 4 percent of public school teachers are Latinos, whereas Latinos
constitute 15 percent of the student body.
LATINOS IN SECONDARY SCHOOL
* Latinos in grades 9-12 constitute 13 percent of the school population. By
2030, they are expected to comprise 23 percent of the population. * More than
one-third of Latinos age 15 to 17 are enrolled below grade level, an
unfortunately large number given the fact that enrollment below grade level is
the highest predictor of dropping out.
* The average 1996 NAEP scores for Hispanic students age 17 were well below
those of their white peers in reading, mathematics, and science.
* Latino students earn more credits in computer science, foreign languages,
and English than other groups; and fewer credits than other groups in history,
science, and mathematics.
* The percentage of Latino seniors planning to attend a four-year college
doubled from 24 percent in 1972 to 50 percent in 1992. The percentage intending
to attend a two-year program increased from 12 to 20 percent.
* Latino students are at least three times as likely to take a foreign
language Advanced Placement (AP) examination as whites, and five times as likely
as whites to be eligible for college credit from these tests. (White students
are, though, more likely than either Latinos or African Americans to take AP
examinations in all other subject areas.)
* Only 35 percent of Latino students are enrolled in college preparatory or
academic programs that provide access to four-year colleges or rigorous
technical schools, as compared with 43 percent of African Americans and 50
percent of whites.
* Moreover, Latino students are more frequently tracked into general courses
that satisfy only the basic requirements: 50 percent are enrolled in general
programs, as compared with 40 percent of African Americans and 39 percent of
* The high school completion rate for Latinos has remained steady over
several years: only 63 percent, as compared with 81 percent for African
Americans and 90 percent for whites.
* The dropout rate for Latinos is much higher than for other groups: in 1998,
30 percent of all Latino 16- through 24-years-old (1.5 million) were dropouts,
whereas the dropout rate was 14 percent for African Americans and 8 percent for
* The high Latino dropout rate is partly attributable to the relatively
greater dropout rate for Hispanic immigrants: 44 percent, as compared with 21
percent for the U.S.-born.
* The high school completion rate for Latino parents is increasing, but
remains low. Up from 23 percent in 1972 to 45 percent in 1997, the completion
rate for Latino parents still lags well below the rate for whites (90 percent),
however. (Parental high school completion is an important factor in the
educational attainment of their children.)
LATINOS IN COLLEGE
* Latinos now represent almost 10 percent of the total student enrollment in
higher education. They comprise 14.5 percent of the traditional college-age
population in the U.S., a proportion expected to rise to 22 percent by 2025.
* The representation of Latinos in higher education has grown dramatically,
increasing 202 percent between 1976 and 1996.
* Latinos enroll in college immediately upon high school graduation at a rate
similar to that of other groups: 66 percent, compared with 60 percent for
African Americans and 68 percent for whites. The enrollment rate for Latino high
school completers age 18-24 over time is lower than that for other groups: 36
percent, compared with 40 percent for African Americans and 46 percent for
* The majority of Latino undergraduates (53 percent) are enrolled in two-year
colleges, whereas the majority of African American (51 percent) and white (56
percent) undergraduates are enrolled in four-year colleges.
* A higher percentage of Latino students (45 percent) are enrolled part time
than either African Americans (40 percent) or whites (39 percent). Latinos (35
percent) are also more likely than African Americans (32 percent) or whites (25
percent) to take more than six years to earn a bachelor's degree.
* Latino enrollment in undergraduate education is concentrated in the fewer
than 200 colleges known as Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). HSIs are
accredited degree-granting public or private non-profit higher education
institutions with at least 25 percent total undergraduate Hispanic full-time
equivalent student enrollment.
* Latinos have doubled their undergraduate degree attainment since 1976.
Twenty years later, Latino students earned 5 percent of all bachelor's degrees
and 7 percent of all associate's degrees.
* The top three disciplines for the bachelor's degrees of Latinos are
business, social sciences, and education. The top disciplines for associate's
degrees are liberal arts, business, and the health professions.
* Latinos have increased their enrollment in graduate education, although
they still comprise a smaller proportion of students than other groups: 4
percent, as compared with 6 percent for African Americans and 73 percent for
* Within the Latino graduate student group, 60 percent were women in 1996.
* Latinos borrow less than other groups to pay for their education. Nearly 50
percent of first-year college students received grants and fewer than 30 percent
received loans. In comparison, close to 60 percent of African Americans got
grants and 42 percent got loans, and 46 percent of whites got grants and 31
percent got loans.
* In 1992 Latinos comprised fewer than 3 percent of full-time instructional
faculty and staff in higher education.
Latinos in education: Early childhood, elementary,
secondary, undergraduate, graduate. (1999). Washington, DC: The White House
Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans. (ED 440 817)
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