Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Latino Students in New Arrival States: Factors and Services to Prevent Youth from Dropping Out

Researchers: Andrew Behnke, North Carolina State University,
Laura Gonzalez, UNC Greensboro, & Ron Cox, Oklahoma State University

Source (Journal name, date of publication): Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, Aug 2010

What was the purpose of this research?

Latino youth are more likely than any other ethnic group to drop out of high school in the United States. Though some research has helped us understand the factors leading to dropout, very few studies have assessed Latino student’s opinions of services and factors that would help them stay in school.

If applicable, who were the participants, and what were they asked to do?

This study presents the results of an in-depth survey of 501 Latino students in North Carolina public schools.

Major findings or points:

Findings suggest that Latino youth drop out because of the difficulty of their school work (particularly if they are still acquiring English), personal problems (e.g., pregnancy or problems at home), the need to work to support their family economically, and peer pressure.

Major caveats:

The students surveyed were attending a leadership conference, so they represent a motivated subset of Latino students in North Carolina, but they were reflecting on their peers as well as their own concerns.

What does this research mean for counseling practice, settings, and/or training?

Students suggest improved academic and personal support in the form of tutoring, mentoring, after-school programs; improved English as a second language classes; and more Spanish-speaking staff/teachers.  Students pointed in particular to the importance of a caring attitude from school personnel (including counselors), which meant actively listening to their concerns or reaching out in a proactive manner.  The concerns reflected under reasons for drop out have many implications for counselors, both personal and academic.  As schools in North Carolina experience continued growth in the numbers of Latino students, administrators, teachers, and counselors who were previously unfamiliar with the culture will need to find ways to build bridges to these families.  Community and state-wide resources such as El Pueblo, the Center for New North Carolinians, and the NC Society of Hispanic Professionals have many resources to offer.  The value of personal relationships in Latino/Hispanic traditions cannot be overstated.

By: Laura Gonzalez

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