Hispanic Students Suffer Achievement Gap

Ladson-Billings (2006) suggests the term achievement gap refers to the disparities in standardized test scores between Black and White, Latina/o and Whites, and recent immigrant and White students. The gap also exists when dropout rates are compared between Black and White and Latino and White students, as well as when comparing students who take advanced placement examinations, enroll in honors courses, and are admitted to colleges, graduate, and professional programs (Ladson-Billings, 2006). Even when African Americans and Hispanics whose incomes are comparable to those of Whites, there is still an achievement gap as measured by standardized testing (National Center for Education Statistics, 2001).

The achievement gap in education still exists between Hispanic and African-American students and their White and Asian counterparts (Colón, 2008). Latinos, in general, have much lower academic achievement than do members of other ethnic groups in the US (Pew Hispanic Center, 2012). Latino high school dropouts are the highest of those for all racial and ethnic groups (Becerra, 2012). The national high school graduation rate for Latinos is 53.2%, compared with 74.9% for White students and 76.8% for Asian students (Orfield, Losen, Wald, & Swanson, 2004). The average number of years of schooling for male Latinos is 10.6 years, compared with 12.2 years for male African Americans, and 13.3 years for White males (Pew Hispanic Center, 2012). Latino students are also underrepresented in Advanced Placement (AP) classes in high school, and those Latino students who do enroll in AP classes have the lowest average scores on AP exams (Miller, 2005).

The majority of Latino students attend urban schools that are structurally large, impersonal, and have limited resources (Rodriguez, 2008). As a result, Latino students get little one-on-one support from teachers and feel disengaged from the school culture in general (Rodriguez, 2008). Living in segregated communities where the majority of the population does not have a high school diploma or college degree also promotes student dropouts (Rodriguez, 2008). Research showed that a Hispanic student whose parents did not finish high school and who lives and attends school in a predominantly Latino community has a 50% chance of earning a high school diploma (Rodriguez, 2008).

Ambrose, Bridges, DiPietro, Marsha, and Norman (2010) suggested that instructors examine their assumptions about their students. Teacher assumptions such as Hispanic students are not good at test-taking can have a significantly negative impact on the learning of a child by creating a climate of alienation of those students to whatever task is at hand (Ambrose et al., 2010). Educators, researchers, and school leaders must view every school as a self-contained entity that might be similar to or different from the urban schools around it by getting rid of assumptions and studying each school on its own merit (Kincheloe, 2010).

IINII uses a revolutionary Design Thinking process to help your school community gain an understanding of one’s sense of self, as well as developing an understanding of students’ and parents’ values; having an understanding of one’s values matters because research has shown that it is linked to better well-being, less stress, and increased confidence in one’s ability to succeed.

Understanding students’ values can be developed with culturally sustaining practices that reflect a student’s identity and experience. Particularly helpful is focusing efforts on cultural competence and relevance and providing opportunities for students to practice bridging differences between diverse identities in a safe environment. To learn how you can create a dynamic youth-centered environment that honors the unique values of your students and parents, visit our website at, or contact us at or 1800-507-2502.

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