SCHOOL CHOICE AND HISPANIC DROPOUTS
November 12, 2007
In 2005, more than one-fifth (22.4 percent) of Hispanics 16 through 24 years of age were dropouts, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). This means they were not enrolled in school, and had not graduated from high school or passed General Educational Development (GED) tests. These dropout numbers do not accurately measure the performance of U.S. schools in educating Hispanic students because they include immigrants educated abroad. However, even after adjusting for the portion of Hispanic dropouts who never attended U.S. schools, the dropout rate for Hispanic students is higher than for other major ethnic groups in America.
What can be done to lower the dropout rate for Hispanics? School choice would greatly increase opportunities for Hispanics to excel by requiring public schools to compete for students, say Madison Jones and Renee Bou-Waked, policy interns with the National Center for Policy Analysis:
- Charter schools, for example, are publicly funded schools that are free of many of the regulations imposed on traditional public schools.
- Charter schools characteristically serve a disproportionate number of minority students who have had limited academic success in public schools.
- Unlike most public schools, charter schools do not have a local residency requirement.
According to the Center for Education Reform, students attending charter schools are beginning to perform better academically than their peers in the public school system:
- Hispanic students have a greater chance of being proficient in math and reading if they attend a charter school.
- Students' test scores at charter schools are "rising sharply" and they beginning to outperform underprivileged students in public schools.
- In Texas, students in grades 6 through 9 attending charter schools performed better on state reading and mathematics tests than comparable students in traditional public schools.
Source: Madison Jones and Renee Bou-Waked, "School Choice and Hispanic Dropouts," National Center for Policy Analysis, Brief Analysis No. 602, November 12, 2007.
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