Latino students and families: A growing population that is underrepresented in research
May 28, 2019
The demographics of U.S. schools are rapidly changing. Latino students are the fastest growing ethnic group, and currently, one in four U.S. students is Latino. Latino students are projected to represent a third of the school-age population by 2050, equaling non-Latino White students.
Latino students and families are not a homogenous group — they are unique and diverse in many ways.
More than 90 percent of the country’s Latino children were born in the U.S. However, immigration continues to be an important factor in the lives of many Latino children, as more than half have at least one parent who was born outside of the U.S. Nearly three-quarters of Latino families have roots in Mexico, but others have origins in Central America, South America, the Caribbean, or Europe.
The majority of dual-language learners in today’s classrooms are Latino, and 87 percent of Latino children speak English very well. About half of these children have at least one parent who does not speak English well.
Why TAPP para Familias Latinas?
Teachers and parents often ask why the Teachers and Parents as Partners (TAPP) research program focuses on Latino families, and not all families whose children need support.
Diverse groups have traditionally been excluded from participating in research. TAPP para Familias Latinas aims to address this disparity. It’s estimated that 96 percent of psychological studies come from countries with only 12 percent of the world’s population, which tend to include mostly White participants.
This underrepresentation can lead to assumptions that the behaviors and values of the majority culture are “normal,” while those of other cultures are problematic.
Educational and psychological research should reflect the growing diversity of students in U.S. schools. TAPP para Familias Latinas was designed to fill this gap and be responsive to the needs, culture and context of Latino students and families.
What does this mean for you?
It is important to be a critical consumer of research. When considering programs for your school, make sure the research that supports them draw upon sample populations that are similar to the students you serve. This is especially important for teachers and practitioners in diverse schools whose students may be underrepresented in research.
You can also become involved in educational research that focuses on diverse students. The Nebraska Center for Research on Children Youth, Families, and Schools has many ongoing research programs designed to study a wide range of populations and improve outcomes for all students. Visit our website for information on how to become involved in TAPP para Familias Latinas.