ERIC Identifier: ED252637
Publication Date: 1984-03-00
Author: Ascher, Carol
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban
Education New York NY.
Helping Hispanic Students to Complete High School and Enter
College. ERIC/CUE Digest Number 20.
Hispanic students tend to be more poorly prepared for college than
non-Hispanic white students for several reasons. First, a higher percent of
Hispanic seniors is in vocational or general programs rather than academic
programs. Second, fewer Hispanic seniors than other Whites have enrolled in such
academic courses as trigonometry, calculus, physics, chemistry, or third year
English. Third, a higher percentage of Hispanics than non-Hispanic Whites take
neither the SAT nor the ACT, the standardized tests usually necessary for
college admission. Of those who do take the standardized tests, lower
percentages of Mexican Americans (66 percent) and Puerto Ricans (65 percent)
than other Whites (80 percent) identify themselves as in academic or college
preparatory programs--that is, they have not prepared appropriately.
Both Hispanic and non-Hispanic White seniors agree, more or less, that their
school work is inhibited because:
School doesn't offer courses I want to take....I don't feel part of the
school...poor teaching...poor study habits...I find it hard to adjust to the
school routine...my job takes too much time (Duran 1983).
On the other hand, hard courses, lack of help from teachers, health problems,
and transportation difficulties are cited 5 to 10 percent more frequently by
Hispanic seniors than by non-Hispanic White seniors.
Finally, the greatest discrepancy between Hispanic and non-Hispanic White
seniors has to do with the compatibility of students' home life with schooling.
One-third of Hispanic seniors, at a level at least 10 percent higher than
non-Hispanic whites, worry about money problems, family obligations, a lack of a
good place to study at home, and parental disinterest in their education.
STUDENTS' SOCIOCULTURAL CHARACTERISTICS AND
Based on cultural stereotypes about Hispanic students, many teachers see
lower potential and expect lower performance. In a study of Mexican-American
students, teachers were more likely to show disapproval toward Spanish-dominant
than English-dominant students and to attribute negative characteristics to
students who spoke accented or nonstandard English or nonstandard Spanish.
Another study found that teachers attributed such negative characteristics as
low social status, low educational attainment, and low intelligence to Hispanic
students who had accents or who were nonstandard speakers.
A United States Commission on Civil Rights study showed that teachers direct
praise or encouragement at Anglo students 36 percent more often than at
Mexican-American students; build on the spoken contribution of Anglo students 40
percent more often; and ask Anglo students 20 percent more questions than they
ask Mexican-American students.
THE PREDICTIVE VALUE OF HISPANIC HIGH SCHOOL GRADES AND COLLEGE ADMISSION
A number of factors clearly depress the test performance of Hispanic
students. First, the lower socioeconomic and educational level of Hispanic
families generally correlates with low test performance, regardless of
ethnicity. Second are problems within the testing situation: cultural
differences, which hinder guessing or interpretation; text anxiety; a relatively
slower speed of test taking that decreases chances of test completion;
unfamiliarity with the accepted nuance of test vocabulary; and, possibly,
culturally different test-taking strategies. According to Duran,
Neither high school grades nor admissions test scores alone or in combination
ought to bear the sole burden of evidence for making decisions to admit
Hispanic-background students to college.... Admissions personnel need to be
provided with a broader range of information on Hispanics' background, language,
and culture in weighing admissions decisions.
SUCCESSFUL GUIDANCE FOR HISPANIC COLLEGE-BOUND STUDENTS
Hispanic students rely less on their guidance counselors and parents for
career information than do other groups of students and, instead, resort more
frequently to books, magazines, and former students, as well as classroom
teachers, librarians and career specialists. Hispanics also tend to be more
vulnerable to both the positive and negative influences of school personnel than
are middle-class, non-Hispanic White youth.
Though research on counseling Hispanics is scarce, existing research
indicates that what counselors fail to do is just as significant as what they
do. In interviews, Puerto Rican students cited counselors' failure to explain
adequately the college-going process as preventing these students from applying
High schools that are successful in getting Hispanics into college combine a
number of strategies:
--High expectations and a strong academic curriculum challenge both teachers
and students and have far-reaching effects.
--Early identification of college-bound students enhances chances for better
preparation. But early identification should not be rigid, should avoid
tracking, and the selection of college- bound students should not be left
entirely to school personnel, or be based entirely on test scores and grades.
Given a proper explanation of the expectations and responsibilities, students
should be allowed to enter the college process at any point in their high school
--A well-developed information system needs to alert students about visits
from college recruiters, test deadlines, college days/nights, college fairs,
college orientation days, scholarship deadlines, and other events. Teachers need
to be attuned to these activities in order to plan lessons accordingly and to
provide assistance whenever necessary. Parents need to be aware in order to
provide a role of support and encouragement. And counselors need to be sensitive
to the community's language preference--and to accept the fact that some
information may need to be disseminated in both Spanish and English.
--An organized effort to prepare students for standardized testing, college
admission, and financial aid application is essential. Students need not only
information on deadlines and visits, but an understanding of their importance in
getting into college. Activities should be designed to help students
successfully complete each step.
--A well-defined role for resource groups, including parents, teachers,
college recruiters, ex-students, and community organizations, should be
creatively designed to fit the needs of the individual school.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This Digest is based on Richard P. Duran's HISPANICS'
EDUCATION AND BACKGROUND: PREDICTORS OF COLLEGE ACHIEVEMENT (New York: College
Entrance Examination Board, 1983) and Gilberto Ramon's THE COUNSELING OF
HISPANIC COLLEGE-BOUND STUDENTS (New York: ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education
and Las Cruces, NM: ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools,