Diplomas Count 2012: Latino Students Face Barriers to Educational Success

Diplomas Count 2012, the 7th edition of Education Week’s annual report highlighting high school graduation trends, was released on Friday, June 8th at an event in Washington, DC, also viewed live online via webcast. This year’s report highlights Latino students and the urgency around addressing the needs of this population. The publication reports that “the nation's 12.1 million Latino schoolchildren encounter significant barriers on the road to educational success: language challenges, poverty, lagging achievement, low rates of high school and college completion, and, more recently, a wave of state laws targeting illegal immigrants that have put additional strain on Hispanic students, families, and communities.”

At Friday’s event, presenters and panelists discussed the findings of the report, examining demographic data and reform strategies, and highlighting the Latino student experience as well as those of English Language Learners (ELLs). Data centered around the nation’s gains in graduation, of which Latinos made the largest, with 63 percent of Latinos in the class of 2009 graduating, a 5.5 percent increase from the class of 2008. Data was also examined regarding continued challenges, including the still 1.1 million dropouts the nation produces per year, 27 percent of which are Latino. Presenters shared information regarding dropout populations, pointing out that minority males and California and Texas together produce half of the nation’s Latino dropouts. Educational access, cultural constraints, and poverty were found to play roles in disparities in Latino students’ educational success.   

A panel on ELLs discussed topics and issues on English Language Learners such as learning from exemplary high schools, those with dual language schools, creating a college culture in high school, and dropout recovery programs. They also talked about standards and the need to recognize that ELLs are oftentimes not represented in national policy and accountability standards. Panelist Gabriela Uro, from the Council of the Great City Schools, shared related statistics from their report on ELLs. Brett Kimmel, principal of Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School in New York, Daniel King, superintendent of Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District, and Deborah Short from the Center of Applied Linguistics also sat on the panel.

Presentation slides and archived live cast are available here.

Note: This blog post was originally authored under the auspices of the National High School Center at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The National High School Center’s blog, High School Matters, which ran until March 2013, provided an objective perspective on the latest research, issues, and events that affected high school improvement. The CCRS Center plans to continue relevant work originally developed under the National High School Center grant. National High School Center blog posts that pertain to CCRS Center issues are included on this website as a resource to our stakeholders.

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