Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Community Groups Work to Boost Latino Academic Success

Schools are not the only ones trying to tackle the Latino achievement gap. Increasingly, parent and community groups are also stepping in to bolster test scores, graduation rates and academic success.

This Baltimore Sun story profiles an advocacy group called Conexiones, which was founded as an effort to stem Latino dropout rates. Board member David Rodriguez, whose parents are from Puerto Rico, works closely with the Howard County school district to help Latino students because he says ”raising the bar for Hispanics will clearly help the county overall.”

Despite Howard County’s reputation for strong schools, the district’s Latino students do not score as well as their non-Latino counterparts. A major part of the group’s work involves pinpointing the factors that make students disengage from school, some of which may include “boredom, socioeconomic challenges and lack of creativity in the classroom,” the story notes.

Another piece in Hispanic Business also looks at a community group working to help Latino students, the Los Angeles Hispanic Youth Institute. The group offers academic counseling to students in underserved communities, hoping to increase the college enrollment rates in predominantly Latino neighborhoods.

The needs, the story points out, are great. As Jason Acosta, director of the Los Angeles Hispanic Youth Institute, tells Hispanic Business that “[s]ome of our students are just beginning to understand the significance of their GPAs, and that a ‘D’ is not going to count towards their Cal State or UC applications, even though it will allow them to graduate from high school.”

Both stories point out the value of mining community groups as sources for school-related stories. Often, those groups and advocates can provide story fodder for pieces examining the obstacles faced by Latino students, as well as offering tips that lead to stories about student success. They can also have insight into how well — or how poorly — school systems are doing in working with Latino students.

They also highlight the importance of looking at the factors leading to poor scores or low graduation rates, such as lack of academic counseling, socioeconomic issues or lack of challenging curriculum.