Fostering Latino student success

Published By
Community College Daily
Published On
September 13, 2023
  • An early childhood education program at Reading Area Community College (RACC) in Pennsylvania looks to improve the skills and successes of Latino workers in those jobs.
  • A community health worker program at Chicago’s Richard J. Daley College aims to provide a pathway for Latino adult learners to earn a credential in the field, while also developing trust in their communities, which are often hesitant about using healthcare.
  • Also in Chicago, Wilbur Wright College runs a program to help Latino and other students complete an associate or bachelor’s degree in engineering or computer science.
  • The Houston Community College System provides scholarships to help Latino students overcome financial challenges to help them earn a two-year degree within three years or less.
  • In California, Cerritos College developed housing for homeless students that has, in turn, helped to increase the success rates of those students, who are mainly Latino.

These programs are the five finalists in the associate-degree category for Excelencia in Education’s 2023 Examples of Excelencia. In total, there are 19 finalists — including the categories of baccalaureate, graduate and community-based organizations — that are prime examples of advancing Latino student success through culturally relevant, evidence-based practices.

Teaming to succeed

Excelencia has posted the profiles of the programs on its website. A common thread that runs through the five community college programs: partnerships.

RACC, for example, teamed with United Way on its program to provide an English-as-a-second-language coach. It also leverages student peers who serve as mentors. In addition, bilingual, Spanish-speaking staff support students in and out of the classroom. These are just a few examples of how the Pennslyvania college intentionally developed its program to guide incumbent early childcare education workers, who are largely Latino.

Another common thread through the programs: There is evidence that they work. In the RACC program, the success of the United Way partnership resulted in a 6% increase in Latino student participation and allowed RACC to replicate it for more students from Latino-operated childcare centers, according to Excelencia.

“Replication increased the number of Latino students earning credits for the Child Development Associate credential, which in turn helped area childcare centers improve their statewide quality rating,” the profile said.

In addition, for the 2021-22 school year, the average success rate of Latino students in these courses was 74%, compared to 66% for Latinos in all 100-level courses, Excelencia reported.

For its housing project for homeless students, called The Village, Cerritos College found that participants have a higher GPA, complete their programs faster and are more likely to transfer than non-participants of their housing programs. A quarter (25%) of Latino participants earned an award within their first two years, compared to 10% of Latino non-participants and 15% of all non-participating students, according to Excelencia. Also, 14% of Latino participants have matriculated at four-year institutions, compared to the overall campuswide transfer rate of 11%.

Excelencia will announce the winners of each category on September 28.

Another one to watch

In addition to the finalists, Excelencia noted eight “Programs to Watch,” described as “up-and-coming programs, [that] have positively impacted the success of their Latino students, and are growing their evidence of effectiveness.” Among them is a scholarship program at Florida’s Valencia College that aims to increase the college-going rate in the county. In its first year, the program supported a 16% increase in Hispanic student enrollment this past spring; of the students who started in the program, 83% were retained from fall 2022 to spring 2023, of which 68% were Hispanic, according to Excelencia.

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