Latino Students’ Reading Level Progress Increases

One of the nation’s leading child-study centers, Child Trends Hispanic Institute, reports that Latino students’ reading scores for fourth and eighth grade students have increased by half a grade over the past decade. However, between 2005 and 2015, just 21 percent of fourth grade Latino students achieved the “proficient” reading level, compared to 46 percent of their non-Latino peers. This data is significant as studies indicate that achievement at fourth grade is predictive of high school graduation rates.

It is estimated that by 2030, one in three U.S. students will be Hispanic. With this population being the fastest growing segment in public schools, the report seeks to illustrate where attention needs to be focused for this particular group.

There have been improvements made nationally for all Latino students, whether they were Mexican-American, Cuban-American, Puerto Rican or from another subgroup. More than one third of states saw improved Hispanic reading scores, though the most recent data indicates this progress has slowed.

Interestingly, the findings show that how well Latino students perform is in large part based on demographics. Achievement gaps between Latinos and white students span from over three grade levels in Minnesota and Pennsylvania, to just one level in Louisiana. Top performing school districts include Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, District of Colombia and New York.


Miami-Dade County Public Schools lead the way for both fourth and eighth grade reading scores out of the twenty-one urban school districts studied. Despite high poverty levels and over 75,000 English-language learners, Miami-Dade’s commitment to student success from teachers, administrators and parents is clearly paying off. Superintendent Alberto Carvalho told NBC News, “…I take great pride in seeing a community that is diverse, with first- and second generation immigrants, producing some of the most compelling academic achievements in the country.”

The hope is that the report from Child Trends illustrates where further attention need be focused. Through additional research and policy improvement, the goal over time will be both continued progress and narrowing the achievement gap between Hispanic students and their non-Latino counterparts.

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