Bridging Gaps: Hispanic Communities

Hispanic students are the fastest growing population in American public schools. Both immigration and birth rates are accelerating the number of Hispanic students enrolled in both K-12 and higher education. Yet achievement for Hispanic students still lags behind their white peers.  According to ACT & Excelencia in Education’s research, Hispanic students trail both Asian and non-Hispanic white students by every academic measure. ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning was launched to address these gaps, and those of all underserved students, through our research, convening power, and strong partnerships. It is in that spirit that we continue our work with Excelencia, the leading national advocate for Hispanic student success.

ACT and Excelencia share a commitment to data-driven solutions that directly support effective interventions for underrepresented students. Both organizations believe that understanding a student’s culture is critical for helping to unlock their pathway to opportunity. Developing contextual programs that address students from a holistic view means that they are able to embrace their culture, celebrate their full identity, and learn from teachers who understand where they are coming from.

Sarita Brown, the president of Excelencia, is a nationally-recognized leader in advocating for Hispanic student success. Widely respected by her peers, Brown served as the Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans under President Clinton and Secretary of Education Richard Riley from 1997 to 2000. She is also a member of ACT’s Board of Directors.

The Center for Equity in Learning and Excelencia have a long-standing relationship, previously working together on ACT’s annual Condition of College & Career Readiness reports and Excelencia’s Examples of Excelencia, awarded annually at Celebración de Excelencia in Washington, D.C. The Center for Equity in Learning is strengthening our partnership by bringing our rich data-analytics and research capabilities to address the challenges Hispanic students face and together tell the stories of successful efforts around the country to help Hispanic students thrive.

The Center for Equity in Learning and Excelencia will work together to bring a national focus on mentorship and family and community support as critical elements for helping students bridge the gap between high school and college completion. Because the truth is that the things that work for Hispanic students are the things that work to close the equity gap for all students– providing community-based internship experiences that convey social capital, engaging parents in the educational journey, supporting working learners, helping educational partners become more flexible and bringing cultural awareness into the conversation with educators and employers.

ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning and Excelencia in Education are excited to strengthen our combined efforts to improve outcomes for Hispanic students and all underserved learners.