The Latino dropout rate has seen a steady decline over the last two decades to an all-time low of 12.7 percent among 16-24-year-olds–less than half of the 1993 rate of 27 percent. These findings were released in a new NCLR education brief, “Latinos in New Spaces: Emerging Trends and Implications for Federal Education Policy.” The publication comes just as Congress begins debating the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Latinos are the fastest-growing segment of the student population, and by 2023, they will represent almost 30 percent of all students enrolled in U.S. schools.
“Latino children have made important strides in our schools, and their educational achievement is attributed to their own hard work, along with rising academic expectations and standards by school districts, administrators, teachers and parents,” said Eric Rodriguez, Vice President, Office of Research, Advocacy and Legislation, NCLR. “The data show why the civil rights community has supported increased accountability and standards-based education reforms for the last two decades.”
As of 2012, Latino students had a high school completion rate of 73 percent, which was an increase from 61 percent in 1993. Between 2000 and 2013, the percentage of eighth-grade Hispanic students who achieved or surpassed proficiency levels in mathematics more than doubled. College attendance has also reached a record high: Hispanics enrolled in postsecondary education increased from 13.4 percent in 1972 to 37.5 percent in 2012.
While these gains represent significant improvements, more is needed if Latinos are to reach parity with their peers. In reading proficiency, only 22 percent of Latinos score at or above proficiency, compared to 46 percent of their White counterparts. They are also less likely to be enrolled in preschool. Fifty-seven percent of of Latino three- to five-year-olds were enrolled in preschool, compared to 66.7 percent of Whites and 65.8 percent of Black students.
“The gains that Latino schoolchildren have made are impressive, and it’s important that we continue to build on this success. That is why we must ensure that Congress passes a robust ESEA that maintains a commitment to equity in our schools and vital civil rights protections,” said Rodriguez. “A decade ago, national education policy put a spotlight on Latinos and English language learners, which led to increased accountability and standards that have produced results. Reforms should make our schools better and ensure that all children have an equal chance at getting a good education.”
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