Although Latinos are the largest and fastest-growing minority group in K-12 schools in the United States, their college-completion rate is 19.2 percent compared with the national average of 41.1 percent, according to a report released today.
The College Board Advocacy & Policy Center chronicles the challenge facing Latinos, along with a a state policy guide and interactive website focusing on Latino education developed in collaboration with the National Council of La Raza,a national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization.
As of 2008, 63.9 percent of Hispanic high school completers enrolled in a two or four-year college immediately after graduation, the report notes. (See post here from last month about trends on Latino enrollment.)
"This report is a call to action. Our nation will not become number one again in college completion unless we commit ourselves to giving these students the support they need to achieve their full potential," said Gaston Caperton, president of the College Board, in a press release.
To put the Latino completion rate in perspective, the completion rates for an associate degree or higher for 25- to 34-year-olds in 2009 was 69.1 percent for Asians, 48.7 percent for white, and 29.4 percent for African-Americans.
Among the report's recommendations to boost Latino education attainment:
1. Provide low-income families with the option of universally available preschool for children to enter school better prepared to learn.
2. Improve middle and high school counseling to bridge the information gap among Latino students about the coursework and academic preparation necessary for college.
3. Identify students early who are at risk and implement the best dropout-prevention programs, since Latino students represent the largest group dropping out of high school.
4. Better align the K-12 system with college-admission expectations so Latino students are ready for the rigor of college courses.
5. Improve teacher quality and focus on recruitment and retention; Latino children are most likely to attend poorly resourced schools and to have teachers without advanced degrees and who have the least teaching experience.
6. Simplify the college-admission process so it is more transparent and accessible to first-generation students.
7. Give more financial aid based on need and provide institutions with incentives to enroll and graduate more low-income and first-generation students.
8. Keep college costs affordable by using resources wisely and insisting that state governments fund higher education.
9. Improve completion rates by reforming transfer policies, improving retention, and using approaches that rely on data and academic-support programs
10. Supplement existing basic-skills training with a new "honors GED," as part of adult education programs, and better coordinate existing adult education, veterans benefits, outreach programs, and student aid.
The report will be discussed in Miami today at a roundtable hosted by the College Board and Miami Dade College with Caperton, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Eduardo J. Padrón, Miami Dade College president. Another forum on the topic will take place on Oct. 6 in Washington.