Monday, November 14, 2011

Benefits of Speaking Spanish at Home in the Early Years and Effects of School-Related Language Context on Latinos’ High School Completion

Estela Zarate
Monday, November 14th
12:00-1:30 pm
SBSG 1517

Estela Zarate, PhD
Department of Education
University of California, Irvine

View Dr. Zarate's faculty webpage
To read the abstract, click 'read more' below


Relying largely on high school measures of home language use, the literature examining immigrant incorporation in schools provides contradicting evidence of its effects on high school outcomes.  However, we propose that early home language, as an indicator of early family acculturation and a factor influencing various school processes, may have different implications for students’ schooling trajectories compared to high school home language.  In addition, for immigrants whose home language is not English, such as Latinos, we argue it is necessary to take into account language related schooling contexts. Using hierarchical generalized linear models, we test the effects of early home language,early language classification, and middle school concentration of English learners on high school completion for a cohort of Latino students in one of the nations’ largest school districts (N=30,350).  In support of some of the existing research, this study finds that speaking Spanish at home in the early years has positive effects on high school completion. Moreover, for Spanish speakers, having been reclassified as English-fluent before 6th grade and having attended middle schools with lower concentrations of ELL students increases the probability of high school completion.  These findings suggest that taking into account earlier schooling processes and a context in discussions about the influence of home language on academic achievement broadens the scope of accountability for educating immigrant students.