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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Capturing Latino Students in the Academic Pipeline


Latinos now make up the single largest ethnic group in California’s public schools (California Basic Educational Data System, 1997). Unfortunately, they also have the highest dropout rate of any ethnic group (Rumberger, 1991). These facts create an obvious challenge for a state attempting to reform its education system and raise its educational productivity. This paper reports on three projects in California that have attempted to stem the tide of Latino dropouts and increase the college-going rates of this population. The three programs we review here, ALAS, AVID, and Puente, have each tested a set of strategies aimed at increasing the educational achievement of Latino students. While the aims of the programs are similar, their strategies differ according to the segment of the population they target and the ways in which they deploy their resources. There are important lessons to be learned from these programs and their impact on students and their families. Moreover, it is critically important to the future of the state that California capitalize on efforts such as these, which have been systematic, grounded in research and theory, and evaluated under stringent conditions.

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