A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

Helping Hispanic Students Reach High Academic Standards, December 2000

Helping Hispanic Students Reach High Academic Standards:
An Idea Book

Hispanic1 students represent the fastest-growing minority population in the United States. Since the late 1970s, the percentage of Hispanic students in public schools has increased nationwide from 6 percent to 14 percent (National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 1998). By 2020, Hispanic Americans are expected to make up 20 percent of all U.S. children (NCES, 1998). In Texas, California, and Florida, Hispanic students are the majority in many large urban districts (Secada, Chavez-Chavez, Garcia, Munoz, Oakes, Santiago-Santiago, & Slavin, 1998).

The number of students learning English as a second language overall--of which 73 percent are Hispanic--increased substantially between 1990-91 and 1994-95, not only in places that have long had large Hispanic populations, but in states with new and growing populations, such as Arkansas (120 percent increase), Oklahoma (99 percent increase), and Kansas (118 percent increase) (U.S. Department of Education, 1998).

Despite their growing number, Hispanic students remain among the most educationally disadvantaged groups in the country:

The likelihood that Hispanic students, like other students, will successfully complete their education rises with family income and parental education. However, significant gaps between the high school graduation rates of Hispanic and non-Hispanic students remain even after holding students' social class, English-language proficiency, and immigrant status constant. This is true across the Hispanic population,3 although the odds of completing high school are even lower for Hispanic immigrants and those with limited English proficiency (Krashen, 1998; NCES, 1998; Reyes, Scribner, & Scribner, 1999; Secada et al., 1998; White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans, 1999).

Many schools and communities across the country--both those that have long served Hispanic students and those that have new and growing populations--are taking steps to improve the likelihood that Hispanic students reach the same high standards expected of all students. This Idea Book highlights promising strategies that schools and communities are implementing to help Hispanic students succeed as they prepare for responsible citizenship, further learning, and productive employment.


ESEA Programs Work Together to Serve Hispanic Students

The 1994 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) requires states, districts, and schools to hold all students--including Hispanic students-- to high academic standards. Although many ESEA programs should be coordinated to improve education for all students, two major federal education programs within ESEA target the special needs of Hispanic students. Title I of ESEA aims to close the achievement gap between economically disadvantaged children and their more advantaged peers. It helps schools provide opportunities for disadvantaged children to meet the same high academic standards as those established for all children. Part C of Title I--the Migrant Education Program--addresses the specific needs of migrant children, the vast majority of whom are Hispanic.

Title VII of ESEA, the Bilingual Education Act, offers discretionary grants that assist states, school districts, institutions of higher education, and nonprofit organizations in developing and implementing high-quality, standards-based instructional programs for students who need help learning English (including those whose native language is Spanish), so that these students, too, can have the opportunity to meet the high academic standards established for all children.

Title I and Title VII work together and independently to help Hispanic students succeed in school. The 1994 reauthorization set forth a common framework for educational excellence for these two programs. This framework calls for schools and districts that receive Title I and Title VII funds to collaborate in setting common content and performance standards, planning staff development and developing organizational capacity, adopting guidelines for assessing student achievement, evaluating programs, and developing parental involvement policies and plans. Both programs also promote comprehensive school reform by encouraging the implementation of schoolwide programs that coordinate support from all sources.

In 1998, Congress authorized funds for the Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration (CSRD) Program. This program, which encourages schools to approach improvement through research-based, whole-school reform models, will award $220 million in grants to an estimated 2,800 schools in FY 2000. About 80 percent of the funding goes to schools eligible for Title I programs. Many of these schools serve significant numbers of Hispanic students. Although it is a small initiative by federal standards, in combination with Title I and Title VII, CSRD offers another incentive for schools to coordinate their efforts to serve Hispanic youth.

The 21st Century Community Learning Center Program provides expanded learning opportunities for participating children in a safe, drug-free, and supervised environment. In FY 2000, Congress appropriated $450 million for these programs, which now serve almost 1,600 schools in 471 communities. Many grants support projects serving Hispanic students: The projects build on language and cultural enrichment activities offered during the regular school day. Their curricula extend opportunities for students to learn English while also addressing academic, social, and cultural goals that nurture student success.

The Reading Excellence Act, funded at the level of $260 million in FY 1999, as well as federally funded programs such as Gear Up, TRIO, and Goals 2000, are other resources available to support programs that target Hispanic students.4


This Idea Book Helps Educators to Help Hispanic Students Succeed

This Idea Book is for district administrators and curriculum coordinators, school principals and teachers, and other educators who seek to understand how Title I, Title VII, and other programs help educators to help Hispanic students and Spanish-speaking ELLs achieve high standards. It describes promising practices that have been demonstrated to be effective by current research, and illustrates how these practices can operate in schools and other community settings that have served Hispanic students for many years or that are learning how to serve a new and growing population. The Idea Book describes how effective schools serve Hispanic students in four ways:

  1. Effective, aligned, standards-based programs. Effective schools for Hispanic students and ELLs offer standards-based curriculum, appropriate assessment, and sufficient time for all students to learn. Teaching, curricula, materials, tests, and instructional schedules are aligned and mutually reinforcing. Whatever the language of instruction, all students have a chance to learn what schools are supposed to teach them.
  2. Enhanced professional and organizational capacity. Effective schools for Hispanic students develop the organizational capacity to meet the needs of their students. They offer professional development geared to new demands on faculty skills and knowledge, adopt governance structures that enhance collective learning, acquire the equipment and materials they need to implement their programs, and adjust the school environment to support their work. To the general knowledge and skills that might have worked with other students in other settings, faculty members regularly add new competencies specifically geared to Hispanic studentsí needs.
  3. Engaged family and community resources. Effective schools for Hispanic students bring the resources of families and the broader community to bear on student success. They make Hispanic students and their families feel welcome and help students succeed. Strategies for collaboration surmount barriers posed by differences in language,

  4. Sturdy foundations for postsecondary options. Effective schools for Hispanic students keep paths to postsecondary options visible, attainable, and inviting. They help Hispanic students and their families see the long-term personal, social, and economic benefits of high academic achievement, culture, and social class.
Each section of the Idea Book ends with a checklist that educators can use to see how well their schools and districts are meeting the needs of Hispanic students. The Idea Book concludes with lists of resources, such as information on relevant demographics, federal funding, program components, evidence of success, and contact information for the schools, districts, and programs described in this Idea Book; related publications for further research and reading; and organizations specializing in serving Hispanic families and students.

1 We use the terms "Hispanic" and "Latino" interchangeably throughout this report to refer to a widely diverse group of students with family origins in Spanish-speaking countries. About 64 percent of Hispanic Americans are U.S.-born citizens residing in the United States (Bureau of the Census, 1993a). The vast majority of the Hispanic population five years of age and over who speak Spanish also speak English (Bureau of the Census, 1993b). Although unambiguous definitions of membership in racial and ethnic groups are elusive for a number of reasons, the terms are adequately descriptive for our purpose here: to improve education outcomes for a historically underserved student group.

2 These scores do not include English-language learners (ELLs). ELL students are those whose native language is not English and who come from an environment where English is not the dominant language spoken. They may have been born inside or outside the United States. ELL students are often referred to as limited English proficient (LEP) students, as in Title I and Title VII legislation.

3 The Hispanic population, discussed as a whole here, is widely diverse. The largest subgroups are Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Cubans. Data are not generally available by subpopulation (NCES, 1995).

4 Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin. Under Title VI, recipients of federal grants must take steps to overcome language barriers to ensure the meaningful participation of English-language learners in the education program. This document does not address Title VI standards or requirements.

Table of Contents

[Chapter 2: Implementing Effective, Aligned, Standards-Based Programs]