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CONTACT: Dr. Watson Scott Swail,, 540.288.2322

New Study Provides Policy Recommendations to Improve Latino Educational Opportunity

Las Vegas, Nevada (April 4, 2005). A new report series released today by Educational Policy Institute documents the progress of Latino students from eighth grade to the workforce. The series looks at how Latino 8th-grade students from 1988 fared in the education system and workforce between 1988 and 2000.


Supported by a grant from Lumina Foundation for Education, the Educational Policy Institute analyzed data from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Educational Longitudinal Study (NELS), which first surveyed eighth-grade students in 1988 with followup surveys in 1990, 1992, 1994, and a final followup survey in 2000, eight years after scheduled high school graduation.


Part I of the study looks at the 1988 8th-grade class and what happened to them by 2000. Part II compares BA recipients with high school graduates. And Part III focuses on a multiple regression analysis of the major factors which impede the road to a bachelor’s degree for Latino students. In total, the study finds that although Latino students face significant and real barriers to postsecondary success, there are areas where public policy can make a difference in the lives of Latino youth.


“When Latino students exhibited aspirations toward a bachelor’s degree, they had a 53 percent higher probability of reaching that goal,” said EPI President and co-author of the report, Dr. Watson Scott Swail. “Throughout our analysis, we found that simple, doable things like planning for college on the part of the student and the parents tend to matter a lot. This is significant because we know what to do about these things.”


The report also concludes that academic preparation and taking the right steps in college matter for Latino persistence. Dr. Alberto Cabrera, senior scholar of EPI, co-author of the report, and University of Wisconsin professor, addressed the issue of academic preparation. “The reality is that high school matters to Latino students and time spent preparing themselves for life after high school is a huge factor in what will happen to them following high school graduation.” The report states that Latino students who held a 3.20 GPA in high school were 62 percent more likely than other students to earn a BA within 8 years of high school graduation.


The report provides a series of recommendations for middle schools, high schools, and postsecondary institutions in changing the tide of opportunity for Latino youth, such as increasing communication to students and families about postsecondary options, better utilizing middle and high school guidance counselors, and encouraging and supporting the successful attainment of mathematics education, such as Algebra II by the 9th grade.


“These data tell us an important story,” says Swail. “While those in the education arena may see these findings as redundant, the difference is that these findings are solid and real. This isn’t anecdotal stuff here. These data come from a thoroughly-empirical source which tell us not only tell us what is going on with these students, but more importantly, how we can facilitate improvement in educational opportunity for Latino and all students.”


To download the report series click here.