Saturday, July 19, 2008

State dropout rate is analyzed

Here's the full report: "Kentucky's Immigrant Youth Face Tough Transition to Adulthood" by Kentucky Youth Advocates. -Patricia

By Sarah Vos
June 27, 2008

Kentucky's immigrant teenagers are five times more likely to drop out of high school than their American-born counterparts, according to a new study by Kentucky Youth Advocates.

The biggest reason for their failure is a limited ability to speak English, said Janessa Bryan, the report's author and a policy analyst for Kentucky Youth Advocates.

The report found that 41 percent of immigrants ages 16 to 19 either speak English ”not well“ or ”not at all.“ But 70 percent of immigrants who were not enrolled in school had limited English skills.

Kentucky has one of the highest dropout rates in the nation. Most of the dropouts are white and U.S.-born. One in 10 is an immigrant.

But the number of immigrants in schools is growing. In 1990, 1,300 Kentucky students learned English as a second language. In 2005, more than 11,000 did.

Hispanic teenagers, in particular, are likely to drop out, the report found. Nearly three-quarters of Hispanic immigrants ages 16 to 19 were not in school and did not have a diploma or a GED.

To help immigrant teenagers graduate, the state needs to invest more in programs that help kids stay in school, Bryan said.

The report also calls for the state to track limited students after they finish English proficiency programs. Tracking students would help schools know whether the programs successfully transferred immigrant students into the English-speaking classrooms.

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