Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Index Measures Child Well-Being by Race and Ethnicity

A new index created by the Annie E. Casey Foundation measures child well-being broken out by race and ethnicity nationally and at the state level. 

The “Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children”  report compiles 12 indicators. The highest possible score is 1,000. The foundation hopes that the results can be used as a scorecard by which states measure their success in meeting all students’ needs. 

The report found that Asian children had the highest index score (776), followed by white children (704), Latino (404), Native American (387) and African-American (345). 

Among Latinos, children of Mexican and Central American descent face the greatest challenges. Latino children in immigrant families also faced significant challenges. The one area that immigrant children scored high in was the likelihood that they live in two-parent homes.

The states with the highest index scores for Latinos were located along the Eastern seaboard and the Mountain West. The lowest-scoring states were primarily in the mid-South and Southwest.

The highest scoring state for Latinos was Alaska (573) and the lowest scoring was Alabama (331). Of the heavily Latino-populated states, Florida fared best (511). 

As other studies have found, Latino children ages three to five are the least likely to participate in nursery school, preschool or kindergarten. In 2010-12, 54 percent of Latino children in that age bracket were enrolled in early education programs. Meanwhile, the national average was 60 percent.

Latino adults still lag in college attainment, with 19 percent between ages 25 to 29 holding at least an associate’s degree in 2010-12. That was compared with 26 percent of African-Americans and 47 percent of white young adults.

The measures used evaluate babies born at normal birthweight, children ages 3 to 5 enrolled in school, fourth graders scoring at or above proficient in reading, eighth graders scoring at or above proficient in math, girls ages 15 to 19 who delay having children until adulthood and high school students graduating on time.

The other measures are children who live in low poverty areas (below 20 percent), children who live in families with incomes at or above 200 percent of poverty level, children in two-parent families, children who live in a household with at least one high school diploma, young adults ages 25 to 29 completing an associate’s degree or higher, and young adults ages 19 to 26 who are in school or working.

The report recommends using the ethnic index data to help with policy decisions.