Assignment memo: The growing problem of the Hispanic achievement gap

Reporter Sarah Garland is working on a story about achievement gaps:

California has one of the worst gaps in the nation between Hispanic and white students in reading. Only 12 percent of Hispanic fourth graders were proficient in reading in 2009 on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the Nation’s Report Card. The gap between Hispanic and white students — 47 percent who were proficient on the test in 2009 — actually grew slightly over the past decade.

Already, Hispanic students are a majority in the state, up from just a third of the student population 15 years ago, and their numbers are rising quickly. The number of English learners — the vast majority of them Hispanic — has also grown. Research has shown that students who don’t reach the benchmark of reading by third grade are at much higher risk of dropping out of high school later on, meaning California is on track to host millions of dropouts in the coming years. With college, not high school, increasingly the ticket to a decent job, the trend could spell economic disaster for a state that’s already deep in a financial crisis.

What’s being done to help Latino students get ready to read by age 8?

What does this mean for the future of the state as the Latino student population grows even larger? What can be learned from other large states with significant Latino populations where gaps are closing more rapidly?

Have ideas for the story? Know a good source?  Got a question you’d like seen answered in the story? Add them below and we’ll throw them in the mix.

POSTED BY ON February 22, 2011