New Research Report Makes Clear the Predictors for Student Disconnection from School and Workforce for Latino Youth in Montgomery County

County Leaders Unveil Study Findings which also Includes Recommendations for Improvement
and Follow-up Strategies to Ensure Success across Montgomery County

A research report released today finds that three factors serve as the strongest predictors of whether Montgomery County Latino youth will drop out or graduate from high school: their GPA during their final year in school, teacher expectations, and the presence of an involved parent or adult in the home after school or at dinnertime during middle school years. The report, Connecting Youth to Opportunity: How Latino Youth Perspectives Can Inform a Blueprint for Improving Opportunity in Montgomery County, Maryland, is an all-new research study based on a survey of more than 900 Latino youth in Montgomery County. The study identifies an array of key indicators that could serve to inform whether or not students are becoming disengaged in school, have the potential to drop out, or may fail to find a job once they leave school. The report is commissioned by The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region; conceived and written by The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region and Identity, Inc.; and researched by Identity, Inc.

The survey found that participants reporting GPAs of 2.5 or lower during their last year in school were over five times as likely to report being dropouts as youth with GPAs of 3.0 or higher during their last year in school. For youth with GPAs of 2.5 or lower, lack of a constant presence of a parent/guardian in the home after school or at dinnertime during their middle school years was the next greatest predictor of dropping out of school – with seventy-eight percent of these youth reporting that they were no longer in school.

Youth who reported low expectations from their teachers/counselors during high school, which the survey positioned as “their teachers/ counselors did not expect them to finish high school and/or did not expect them to go to college,” were more than three and a half times as likely to report being dropouts as youth who believed their teacher/counselors had high expectations when it came to school performance.

“There are over 25,000 young people across our region who are disconnected from either school or the labor market – and in some cases, both.” said C. Marie Henderson, Director of The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region in Montgomery County. “The Community Foundation invests in strategies that help these youth get back on track.” Henderson added, “This report is an important milestone for our work in Montgomery County. By asking young people to tell us in their own words why they’re disconnected – rather than relying solely on the perspectives of the adults involved – we have created a new blueprint for improving opportunities for Latino youth. The recommendations rely on committed collaboration across the public and private sectors. We are confident that together, we can move the needle for these young people.”  


While the report makes clear potential factors that impact school performance, the report also includes three recommendations for use by schools, County officials, non-profit agencies, and parents or caretakers to help inform the development of successful strategies that prevent current students from becoming disconnected from school or can be used to reengage students who have stopped attending school, with the goal being to ensure that high school completion leads to workforce participation:

1.      Montgomery County Public Schools will work with the community and other key stakeholders to develop an action plan to lower the Latino dropout rate and close the achievement gap by addressing the key indicators identified in this report.

2.      Montgomery County must improve its workforce development efforts, including programs for students in school and those who are not in school but lack work-ready skills.

3.      The nonprofit sector should assist with providing avenues to help strengthen the ability of the Latino community, particularly parents, to increase their civic engagement and find ways to spend more quality time with their children and become more involved in their education.

Leaders from the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region and Identity, Inc., a Montgomery County-based non-profit that serves Latino youth and families, were joined today at Gaithersburg High School for an announcement of the report findings by top educational leaders, including Dr. Joshua Starr, Superintendent of Schools; Board of Education President Phil Kaufmann; and Dr. DeRionne Pollard, President of Montgomery College, along with various County and school district officials, and dozens of Latino youth and community members.

“What makes this research so powerful is that we went out to hear directly from Latino youth,” said Diego Uriburu, executive director and co-founder of Identity. “Our report shares their voices with you: their struggles and their hopes. They have told us what they need. It is up to us, as a community, to listen and act.”

“Latinos now make up one-fifth of the Montgomery County population and Latino children are fast approaching one-third of our total school population,” said Uriburu. “Government and private entities can no longer work in silos to address the needs of this community. Our schools, our county, our non-profit organizations, and especially our parents and families need to work collectively to respond to what these young people need to achieve success. We all have a shared vision for a healthy and productive county. Now we need to come together to make that a reality for all our county residents.”

The report offers other key data that may impact a young person’s path, such as socio-economic factors, family life, barriers to success, and social exclusion. 

To read and download the report in its entirety, visit www.thecommunityfoundation.org.


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