More Latinos Are Graduating - Here's Why

She added that as the number of Hispanic students has increased, states and districts have likely felt more pressure for the demographic to perform well, and they are probably more likely to spend a higher percentage of resources within the existing budget on helping Latino students meet state and national standards.

That might mean outreach to Spanish-speaking parents or additional help for English-language learners.

However, while the numbers are encouraging, Latinos are still less likely to graduate in four years than some of their peers.

The overall graduation rate was 78.2 percent in 2009-10, the highest level since 1974. Asians and Pacific Islanders had a four-year graduation rate of 93.5 percent, followed by whites at 83 percent. American Indian students were slightly less likely to graduate in four years than Hispanics, with a four-year graduation rate of 69.1 percent, while blacks came in at 66.1 percent.

Efforts by educators and leaders within the Hispanic community over a long period of time have begun to pay off, Pompa said, but it needs to continue, and the community needs to look beyond high school graduation at ways to make college graduation attainable.

A large part of that has to do with offering financial support, Pompa said. The idea of a life saddled by loan repayments deters students, she said, and Hispanic students are more likely to have other financial obligations, such as supporting family members, than some other demographics. Simply explaining how the college application process works is important, as well, particularly for first-generation college attendees with parents who may not know how to help their children apply.

The Hispanic community, Pompa said, hasn't "conquered the high school challenge," but it needs to look beyond that, too, and community members need to continue to emphasize the importance of education.

"It's like a drumbeat," she said.

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