Latino students in San Diego County are underachieving in school, a report finds. “Latino students have disproportionately higher dropout rates, lower test scores and less preparation for college than their white and Asian peers.”
About half of Latino students are not fluent in English.
Latino students have a graduation rate of 66 percent, compared with an average of 79 percent for all students. Dropout rates are higher for males than females.
Latino students are less likely to pass the standardized tests used to assess a school’s academic performance. Likewise, they score consistently lower than their white and Asian peers on college admissions tests . . .
When it comes to meeting the prerequisites for admission to California’s public colleges, about 20 percent of Latino students complete all of the required courses, compared with 44.5 percent of whites and 55 percent of Asians. Similarly, Latino students are less likely to be enrolled in programs for advanced students.
So what are educators going to do about it?
Much of the discussion focused on improving bilingual education and ensuring equal access to educational opportunities from kindergarten through college.
(Oscar) Medina, the county (bilingual education) coordinator, said preserving a student’s native language strikes at the heart of promoting success.
“It’s an issue of identity that has to do with a student’s notion of self-worth and self-esteem,” Medina said. “It also allows access to grade-level curriculum and helps guarantee academic success.”
It hasn’t guaranteed success so far, points out Kimberly Swygert, who thinks it might help if schools taught children in English.
If half of all Latino students in San Diego can’t speak English, I’d say the schools are doing a bang-up job of helping them “preserve” their native language — but I also think that’s part of the problem.”
Then there’s self-esteem. Gotta have that.
“We have to move one step beyond that and mentor, and counsel and encourage them,” said Carol Herrera, a trustee of the Vista Unified School District. “We know that for any child, praise and encouragement is a big factor in academic success.”
The barriers to college admissions for these students are quite clear: They don’t need more Spanish, more cultural hoopla, more hugs or more empty praise. They need to be taught the reading, writing and math skills that will enable them to pass college-prep classes.