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The National Task Force on Early Childhood Education for Hispanics Building a Strong Foundation Amara Scott Andrews Arizona State University Presented at Third Annual TNE-ELD Conference, November 6, 2006 The University of Texas at El Paso
The National Task Force on Early Childhood Education for Hispanics • Established in 2004 to determine how early childhood education can be expanded and improved in ways that would strengthen school readiness and academic achievement for Hispanic children. • Funded initially by a grant from Foundation for Child Development and subsequent grants from A.L. Mailman Foundation, Marguerite Casey Foundation, Peppercorn Foundation and Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.
Final Report in January Demographic brief Subsequent briefs on achievement, school reform strategies and availability of child care centers in Latino communities in January
Building a Strong Foundation • It is widely recognized that the rapidly growing Hispanic population is doing much less well academically than the White majority in the United States. • This is very important because Hispanic children are 20% of the 0-8 population. • This is of particular importance here in Texas where 45% of the 0-8 population is Hispanic (39.8% of the 0-8 population is White).
Demographic Portrait of Young Hispanic Children • In 2001, Hispanics became the country’s largest minority group – 14.4% of the population. • Rapid expansion is expected to continue for decades to come. • High, sustained level of immigration • Large number of young adults in family formation years • Relative high total fertility rate among Hispanic women • Hispanic share of the nation’s youngest children is considerably larger than their share of the population as a whole (20% versus 14% roughly)
An Immigrant Population • The vast majority of Hispanic children are either immigrants or from families in which one or both parents are immigrants. • 64% of Hispanics ages 0-8 were either immigrants or children of immigrants. • Only 36% were children with 2 US-born parents.
Citizens • 9 in 10 young Latino children are born in the US and are therefore citizens. • Although Latino children are overwhelmingly citizens, their families differ from Whites demographically in four major ways that are correlated with large, well-documented differences in school readiness and academic achievement.
Parent Education Levels • Compared to Whites, young Latino children are much more likely to have parents who have not graduated from high school and much less likely to have parents who have a bachelor’s degree. • These differences are even larger for Hispanic youngsters in immigrant families and are largest for Hispanic children of Mexican descent.
Implications • It is not surprising that, across the industrialized world, children from families in which the parents have relatively little formal schooling are markedly overrepresented among low academic achievers in school • On the other hand, those from families which the parent’s have a great deal of higher education are heavily overrepresented among students who excel academically.
Texas • These differences have some major implications for Texas • 45% of the child population is Hispanic • 85.3% of Hispanic children in Texas are of Mexican descent • 49.3% of Mexican children live in immigrant homes • In Texas, slightly greater numbers of Hispanic children had mothers who did not finish high school: 47.4% of Hispanic youngsters (46% nationally) • In Texas, there is a great need to expand and improve early childhood education for Hispanics because of these parent education patterns.
Child Poverty • Consistent with the large differences in parent education levels, a much larger percentage of Latino children live in families that have incomes that fall below the federal poverty lines. • 26% of Hispanics were below the poverty line compared to 9% of Whites • 58% from low income (defined as twice the official poverty line) compared to 27% Whites
Single Parent Families • 23% of Hispanic children live in a single parent household compared to 15% of Whites • This number is much higher for native-born parents – 32% • Only 13% Hispanic children with immigrant parents live in a single parent home
English Language Learners • Because a large majority of young Hispanics have immigrant parents, a majority of the youngsters also have home environments in which Spanish is a primary or exclusive language. • 19% only Spanish • 35% mainly Spanish with some English • 22% mainly English with some Spanish • 21% English only • Hispanic families living in poverty were even more likely to speak Spanish in the home. • 28% only Spanish • 15% only English
Texas • A little over 26% of Hispanics live in linguistically isolated homes. • 32% have two LEP parents. • 49% have either a LEP mother or father.
Implications • Considering these circumstances, it is not surprising that 30% of Hispanic children in a national sample did not have oral English skills strong enough at the start of K to be given a test designed to assess their English literacy skills. (ECLS-K) • Moreover, because a large number of Hispanic children live in families with little formal education, not only is their English limited, but the parents may have weak academic Spanish as well. • Hispanic students may start K without either the Spanish or English literacy foundations needed to get off to a good start.
Academic Achievement • Consistent with the demographic reality presented in the previous slides, Hispanic students have had much lower levels of academic achievement than Whites for many years. • These differences in achievement have their foundations in infant/toddler and preschooler period. • Hispanic youngsters are already behind their White peers when they start K. • These gaps are fully formed by the end of the primary grades. • What this means practically is that Hispanic students are overrepresented among students with such low achievement that they are at-risk of not graduating from high school and consequently are acutely underrepresented among those on course to be well prepared to attend highly selective institutions.
Academic Achievement The Task Force commissioned an analysis of K-5 reading and math achievement using data from ECLS-K
Reading Proficiency Levels • Level 1: Letter recognition • Level 2: Beginning sounds • Level 3: Ending sounds • Level 4: Sight words • Level 5: Comprehension of words in context • Level 6: Literal inference from words in text • Level 7: Extrapolating from text to derive meaning • Level 8: Evaluating and interpreting beyond text • Level 9: Evaluating nonfiction
Math Proficiency Levels • Level 1: Number and shape • Level 2: Relative size • Level 3: Ordinality and sequence • Level 4: Addition and subtraction • Level 5: Multiplication and division • Level 6: Place value • Level 7: Rate and measurement • Level 8: Fractions • Level 9: Area and volume
% Scoring at Levels 1, 2, 3, & 4 in Math at Start of Kindergarten
Students Excluded from the Sample • The 30% of students who had limited English skills at the start of Kindergarten and were not therefore assessed continue to lag behind academically. • By the end of fifth grade, these students are over a full standard deviation below Whites in reading and almost a standard deviation behind in math.
Achievement Gaps and SES • Gaps are heavily related to the much lower SES circumstances of Hispanics than Whites (lower parent education and poverty rates) • However, the Task Force commissioned study looked at achievement across SES.
Implications • We can expect meaningful within class gaps at all SES levels through secondary school. • A 2002 NCES study concluded that 20% of high SES White sophomores were reading at the highest level while only 10% of high SES Hispanics were doing so. • Further, at the lowest quartile, 27% of Hispanics were unable to reach Level 1suggesting that a quarter of low SES Hispanic sophomores were reading far below the level required to do high school academic work (compared to 12% of Whites).
The Good News Evidence of Hispanic Progress • Achievement gaps between Whites and Hispanics of Cuban and South American origins are much smaller than for other Hispanics from other national origins. • Additionally, there is significant intergenerational advancement among the largest national origin group, Mexican Americans.
% Scoring at Levels 1, 2, 3 & 4 in Reading at Start of Kindergarten by Mexican Generation
% Scoring at Levels 6, 7, 8 & 9 in Reading at End of Fifth Grade by Mexican Generation
What Can We Do? • School readiness and achievement have their foundations in the period from birth to three • Literacy related parenting practices: • oral language and vocabulary development • number of different words used, how words are used, range of topics discussed, modeling of language, asking questions, story-telling, singing • Reading contributes to language and cognitive development
What Can We Do? • Increase Time in School • Infant/toddler Programs • Pre-K • Summer and After School Programs • Language • Bi-literate Teachers • Language Development Experts
Conclusion • Major reasons why Hispanic children have relatively low levels of school readiness and achievement • High percentage of these youngsters are from low SES families • parents have little formal education • low incomes • Many low SES Hispanic children are from families in which a limited amount of language is used in the home. For many, Spanish is the primary language spoken in the home, and several know little English when they start kindergarten. • The need to raise school readiness and achievement levels among Hispanics cuts across social class lines. • Expanding and improving the quality of early childhood education for the rapidly growing Hispanic population in the United States is imperative. The Task Force’s Report will discuss these findings among others and importantly will make recommendations for action.
For more information, visit us at www.ecehispanic.org Amara Scott Andrews (480) 965-6683 Amara.firstname.lastname@example.org