Latino Education series

January 17, 2012

Latinos are the largest ethnic minority group in the Southwest and the fastest-growing group nationwide. More than one-third of Latino students are English Language Learners and, according to Department of Education data, they consistently perform poorly on state tests and have lower graduation rates than whites and Asians.

In a series of stories, the Fronteras Desk will report on the Latino achievement gap in the southwest and explore how states are looking beyond federal guidelines and assistance to come up with some possible, scalable innovations and solutions to close the gap.

EARLY TESTING - Ruxandra Guidi

Most kids in California take an English proficiency exam when they enter kindergarten, but recent studies have found that many Latino four-and five-year-olds tested so early are bound to fail the test. We look at one school that is tracking the students’ performance and measuring whether this early testing and tracking is working.  


Many experts believe early education before kindergarten is key to closing the achievement gap. And one of the priorities for national Hispanic advocates right now is educating Latino legislators to get funding for early education programs for Hispanic toddlers and young children. There is apparently one early childhood education program in Las Vegas that is very effective that teaches the whole family.


Rancho is one of the oldest high schools in Las Vegas and has historically been a minority school. Even though it is considered a "dropout factory" because of the low graduation rates, the school has also graduated top leaders in the Hispanic community.

EDUCATING THE MOTHERS – Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez

Hispanic women graduate at consistently higher rates than Hispanic men and often graduate at the same rate as white men in their schools. But often uneducated parents are being left behind, feeling inadequate and ashamed. The initiatives at University of Texas, Austin - Con Mi Madre and Arizona State University Hispanic Mother-Daughter Program are finding ways to help mothers get back on the education path, even obtain their GED, and develop their own success, alongside their daughters.


California ended its 30-year experiment with bilingual education in 1998. Those classes have now been replaced with English-immersion classes and we follow one young child through the elementary school years. She came into school speaking three languages -- an indigenous language, Spanish, and English. In the end, she speaks and reads none of them well. We explore how this English immersion system appears to be resulting in a loss of language, rather than a gain, and we look at the impact that has on education and family life.