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State of Our Cities: Hispanic reading scores show some progress but not enough for success beyond high school
The progress of Hispanic students is really crucial for the progress of big states like Texas and California but also for a growing number of states. Their mastery of key subjects like math and reading will determine not only their own economic mobility but also the economic vitality and future leadership of cities like Dallas.
A couple of months back, I wrote this piece about the middle school algebra completion rates for Hispanic students in several cities. As I said at the outset, the progress of Hispanic students is really crucial for the progress of big states like Texas and California but also for a growing number of states.
It is not that other populations matter less. It’s just that a number of school districts have growing Hispanic populations. In Dallas, for example, Hispanic students make up about 70 percent of the student body. Their mastery of key subjects like math and reading will determine not only their own economic mobility but also the economic vitality and future leadership of cities like Dallas
So, let’s look at another metric in the State of Our Cities report to assess the progress of Latino students in the cities with the largest Hispanic populations. For the purpose of this piece, let’s look at trend lines in reading on the Trial Urban District Assessment for Hispanic students in Los Angeles, New York City, Miami, Houston, Chicago, Dallas, and San Diego.
TUDA, as it is known, assesses reading and math scores every four years in select urban districts. The assessment is offered by the respected National Assessment of Educational Progress.
Here's a quick look at the average score of Hispanic students in fourth and eighth grade reading in 2010 and 2014. I also have included a cheat-sheet to help you understand these average raw scores:
Fourth grade reading scores
Fourth graders possessing an ability to locate relevant information, draw simple inferences from a text, and understand the meaning of words score at the 208 level and above. Fourth graders who go beyond that and interpret a text and draw conclusions from a text score at the 238 level and above.
|New York City||207||205|
Eighth grade reading scores
Eighth graders possessing an ability to identify main ideas and themes, draw simple inferences, and interpret the meaning of a word score at the 238 level and above.
|New York City||246||254|
There are many ways to assess this data, including how the scores of Hispanic students compare to those of all other students in a district. But, again, let’s look at the trend lines in these average scores for Hispanic fourth and eighth graders.
You can do your own comparison of individual cities, but here are my main takeaways:
*We are seeing some signs of progress, even notable gains in particular cities. For example, New York’s Hispanic eighth graders showed an impressive gain in reading scores.
But these scores are generally inadequate for the reading skills these students will need to succeed after high school. In fact, no city is close to having an average score at proficient for Hispanic eighth graders. That includes even relatively high-performing Miami.
*The data drives home the need for schools in each of these cities to act upon these results and use proven reading strategies. The same is true for all cities, for that matter. Matching research-based strategies to the problems this information shows can lead to more positive results for students.
For example, research tells us that reading must be tackled in middle school as a school-wide priority. At the middle school level, reading is connected to all other studies, so it will not help students to treat it as an independent subject.
*Educators, policymakers, parents, and taxpayers need to know this kind of data. Timely and transparent information can help improve both teaching and learning.
*These numbers are important to understand for the larger societal reason I mentioned at the outset. The progress that Hispanic students make in reading will shape not only their futures, but also the communities in which they live.
For that reason, all of us as citizens, taxpayers, parents, and educators need to remain focused on one of our most important domestic challenges. The advancement of Hispanic students starts with strong reading skills, and using data strategically can help schools develop those skills.