Inputs and Student Achievement: An Analysis of Latina/o-Serving Urban Elementary Schools

Julian Vasquez, Amy Williams, Su Jin Jez


One of the most pressing problems in the United States is improving student academic performance, especially the nation’s burgeoning Latina/o student population (Rumberger & Anguiano, 2004). According to the federal mandate of No Child Left Behind, all children must test at a proficient level by 2014 (Darling-Hammond, 2007). This goal may prove to be elusive for Latina/os, many of whom struggle academically (Crosnoe, 2005). The achievement gap on some tests is as high as 30 percentage points between Latina/o and White students (Torres, 2001).

In an effort to understand what influences student achievement and the gap between ethnic minority and White students, many variables have been analyzed, such as student, teacher, community, and school characteristics as well as financial expenditures. However, there is a dearth of research on variables associated with student achievement in Latina/o majority schools in urban districts. As the majority of Latina/o students are segregated into central cities (Arias, 1986) and Latina/o achievement issues tend to start in the first three years of school (Espinosa & Ochoa, 1986), a study focused on urban elementary schools would help decipher what variables affect Latina/o student achievement during the first few years of school.

Considering the continuing challenge of the Latina/o achievement gap, an analysis to understand the relationship between key inputs and Latino/a student achievement is important. The purpose of the research was to better understand the association between financial resources, student demographics, school capacity, and student achievement in majority Latina/o schools. This study asked the following questions: What inputs are related to school level status and growth of mathematics and reading achievement? Do these inputs differ for achievement growth in majority Latina/o elementary schools?



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