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Only 10 percent of Latino dropouts get a GED

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Latinos remain at the bottom of educational achievement both locally and nationally. This worsens when one finds out that the alarming dropout rate comes along with low GED attainment.

Barely 1 in 10 Latino dropouts have a General Educational Development (GED) credential, according to a report the Pew Hispanic Center released last week.

The relatively low level of GED credentialing among Hispanic high school dropouts is especially notable because Hispanics have a much higher high school dropout rate than do Blacks or Whites. Some 41 percent of Hispanics age 20 and older in the United States do not have a regular high school diploma, versus 23 percent of comparably aged Blacks and 14 percent of Whites.

Recently-arrived Latino immigrants don’t fare as well as native-born Latinos in this matter; only 5 percent of those dropouts who recently immigrated to the United States have a GED compared to 21 percent of their U.S.-born counterparts.

Some 52 percent of foreign-born Latino adults are high school dropouts, compared with 25 percent the native born. And among Hispanic dropouts, some 21 percent of the native-born have a GED, compared with just 5 percent of the foreign-born.

Now, let’s bear in mind that Latinos are the largest minority in the United States with up to 47 million—15 percent of the total population—and that projections expect them to be the majority in just a few decades. Not a very promising future in store, right?

This information, based on the Census Bureau’s 2008 American Community Survey, adds to a story I wrote about addressing the dropout problem among immigrant communities for the Notebook‘s April issue.

Research in Philadelphia has shown that graduation rates for Latinos lag below 50 percent.

Many of these kids keep on coming to school districts that don’t have them in mind and, like in Philadelphia, it is hard to assess their difficulties due to the lack of data. A good idea would be to press the District to use the information they already gather with the home language survey when students first enroll in school to start tracking their achievement.

In the end, these same kids are changing the social fabric of all of Philadelphia.

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