- As Latino youth in Maryland’s largest school district move through school, their expectations for the future grow less positive, according to the results of a survey conducted by researchers in the School of Public Health at the University of Maryland.
- Specifically, 87% of the students surveyed from nine middle schools in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) responded that they believe they will reach their goals. But among those surveyed from five high schools, the percentage responding positively drops to 76% and is even lower at 67% among at-risk youth served by the county’s Youth Opportunity Centers, according to the report.
- Conducted in partnership with Identity, a nonprofit organization working with Latino youth in high-poverty areas of the county, the report also states that while graduation rates among Latinos are increasing nationally, the graduation rate among this group in MCPS dropped from 80% in 2014 to about 78.5% in 2017, and the dropout rate increased from 11.1% in 2014 to 13.76% in 2017.
In addition to the survey of over 1,100 middle and high school students and 300 youth not in school or working, the researchers also drew data from other sources, including the Maryland Department of Education, MCPS and the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. The report is meant to guide policymakers and educators in their efforts to improve outcomes for these students, who are largely immigrants or children of immigrants who have left Central America due to civil wars, violence or other hardship.
The report’s authors put the findings in the larger context of recent findings from the Pew Research Center showing that Latinos in general feel conditions have worsened for them under President Donald Trump’s administration. Even so, education outcomes among Latinos have improved nationally. Data show that the dropout rate among Hispanic students has declined from 16% in 2011 to 10% in 2016 — even as the enrollment of Hispanic students in public schools has increased. In addition, a greater proportion of Hispanic high school graduates are enrolling in college — from 32% of high school graduates, aged 18 to 24, to 47%.
MCPS spokesman Derek Turner said in an interview that the district has seen an influx of high school-age students who arrive in the U.S. with limited English, which impacts their progress toward graduation. To address their needs, the district has added career readiness programs so they can earn workforce certificates.
At the elementary level, the district has expanded dual language immersion programs, finding that “these kids are flourishing and learning English faster,” Turner said. Two elementary schools in high-poverty areas will also have extended school years — 210 days — to address summer learning loss.