Magazine article Technology & Learning

White House Strategy Session Focuses on Hispanic Student Achievement

Magazine article Technology & Learning

White House Strategy Session Focuses on Hispanic Student Achievement

Article excerpt

In June, a coalition of government, non-profit and corporate organizations came together in Washington to discuss strategies for improving education for Hispanic students in this country.

By the year 2025, children of Latin American heritage will represent more than one-quarter of school-age children in the United States. Presently, 36 percent of Hispanic students live in families whose income is below the poverty line. As a result, they often have limited access to highly qualified teachers, modern technology, adequate school buildings and the other resources that contribute to academic success.

The steep price of disparate educational opportunity and high dropout rates for the Latino community affects the entire nation, particularly in the information technology sector, where the Hispanic population is substantially under-represented. Such under-representation contributes to an economy-wide pay gap as well as the immense shortage of workers that IT companies face.

A Call to Action

At a White House Strategy Session held on June 15, President Clinton and Education Secretary Riley outlined five goals for dosing the achievement gap by the year 2010--along with benchmarks to be used to measure progress on the goals.

GOAL 1: Ensuring Access to High-Quality Early Childhood Programs: Today only 26 percent of Hispanic 3-year-olds are enrolled in early childhood programs, compared to 46 percent of 3-year-olds nationally. Increasing participation in early childhood programs and encouraging Latino parents to read more frequently to their children are both part of this goal.

GOAL 2: Learning English: Since there are no national benchmarks of progress in English language acquisition, the secretary of Education will be responsible for establishing a data collection approach for measuring progress toward the goal of ensuring that all students graduate from high school with proficiency in English.

GOAL 3: Eliminating the Achievement Gap: In 1998, only 40 percent of Hispanic fourth-graders, compared to 60 percent of all U.S. students, scored at or above the basic level in reading on the NAEP test. There was a 20 percent achievement gap in fourth-grade mathematics as well, although this narrowed to only a 4 percent difference by eighth grade--a sign that progress is being made. …

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