Vol. 5. No. 2 R-9 September 2001
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Effective Programs for Latino Students

Edited by Robert E. Slavin and Margarita Calderon (2001)
Mahwah, NJ: Laurence Erlbaum Associates
Pp. ix + 394
ISBN 0-8058-3413-3
US $39.95 (paper)
US $89.95 (cloth)

This book fills well a gap in knowledge about outcomes of programs designed to enhance academic achievement of Latino students in mainly primary and secondary schools. It presents a broad overview of the current state of research on effective instructional programs with many Latino students. The underlying themes throughout this collection of articles are that Latino students can succeed at the highest levels if given quality instruction, and reform of schools is possible and imperative.

Effective Programs for Latino Students has ten articles describing many effective programs for Latino students and related aspects of Latino students. It has a Preface, Author Index and Subject Index. A bibliography for each article is at the end of the article.

The first article, Olatokunbo S. Fashola, Robert E. Slavin, Margarita Calderon and Richard Duran outline the diversity of Latino students. Then, they give three principles that guided them in reviewing programs: effectiveness in rigorous evaluations, replicability, and successful evaluation or application to schools serving many Latino students. They then report on twenty-nine effective programs, classified into school-wide reform, classroom instructional, curriculum-specific in reading, writing and Language Arts, curriculum-specific in mathematics and early childhood, and tutoring programs. Finally, they identify four overall factors contributing to program effectiveness: a) clear goals with linked methods and materials and constant assessment of students' progress; b) well-specified materials, components and professional development procedures; c) extensive professional development; and d) dissemination of the program.

In the second article, Olatokunbo S. Fashola and Robert Slavin review research about six effective dropout prevention and college attendance programs. The principles for inclusion on this list were the same as in the first article. The authors conclude with six themes common to these programs, which were personalization of content, having an attainable future, help with specific courses and study strategies, and status and recognition for success.

Ann Lockwood focused on effective elementary, middle and high school programs. Three programs, Success for All in an elementary school, the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program in a middle school, and Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) in two high schools, were described in depth. Their implementation problems and successes were emphasized.

In the fourth article, by Margarita Calderon and Angelia Carreon, a three-year study documented the process of design and implementation of two-way bilingual programs in two schools. This article also discussed successes and failures in the schools and cautions that implementation of this program takes constant hard work. Eight other recommendations centered on making a commitment to positive work relations, collegial learning, and letting go of comfortable routines for schools attempting this. Also, the authors emphasize that implementation of a two-way bilingual program should be integrated in multiple subject matter courses in both languages across grade levels. [-1-]

William M. Saunders describes ongoing case studies of an anonymous Southern California school district that is designing, implementing and evaluating an effective five-year transition program for Spanish-speaking students for literacy in both Spanish and English. He first characterizes transitional programs and gives benefits and caveats of them. Results of the study indicate that careful program design and evaluation coupled with successive grade-by-grade achievement can result in a successful program. He says that significant results can happen if the school district emphasizes quality of instruction in early grades, adopts a long term approach to transition, establishes a curriculum for the transition, and maintains L1 instruction in language arts during the first year of transition. Also, a useful appendix of twelve most beneficial components for a language arts program is given.

In the next article, Robert, E. Slavin and Nancy Madden summarize research on Success for All (SFA), an elementary school reading program designed to improve reading achievement for all students. Slavin and Madden's summary focuses on the academic achievement of the ESL learners in three ESL adaptations of Success for All programs and three studies of Exito Por Todos (EPT), the Spanish bilingual equivalent of the same program. All of these programs demonstrated substantial positive results. The authors call for more research to be done regarding the individual components of the program, ethnographic information about SFA/EPT, more longitudinal study in larger districts, and on instructional strategies enabling success for students in reading, regardless of the language of instruction.

In the seventh article, a preliminary ethnography of Success for All focusing on two schools in southern California and three in eastern Texas was done by Patricia L. Prado-Olmos. This study discusses the successes and challenges of implementing the program. Padro-Olmos also indicates that within SFA/EPT, classrooms were qualitatively different, one having more student freedom than the other.

Margarita Calderon provides descriptions of curricula and methodologies used to teach reading in English for Spanish-speaking Limited English Proficient students. This article focuses mainly on reading English, but also includes ESL, bilingual literacy and other factors such as sociocultural, classroom and school characteristics and professional development of teachers. She divides her description into ten parts. After this exhaustive description, she then offers a combined approach to teaching reading in English that consists of twenty-two components. In the final section of the article gives a very useful list of questions that schools should ask when they are implementing a reading program.

The ninth article, written by Gilbert Narro Garcia, offers a three-part analysis of factors which may influence whether a Latino student is at risk of educational failure. These three categories are personally focused, environmentally focused and school and learning-conditions focused. The factors are lengthy lists of statements derived from many U.S. Department of Education Statistics. The factors are impressive in their insight, breadth and accuracy. [-2-]

In the book's last article, Martha Montero-Sieburth gives an overview of more than twenty explanatory models used for Latino academic achievement, from the most traditional views to the most current trends. She concludes by offering six very useful suggestions about academic achievement that could enhance the Latino educational experience.

This book is an important one, providing a comprehensive overview and a wealth of statistics and description and reviews of research about an ever-growing segment of the US population. The book takes an optimistic view of what Latino students can achieve and what schools with Latino students can be while acknowledging the obstacles to their success. It is a book that should be required reading for teacher training programs. It would also be useful to policy makers and researchers in helping to make decisions about successful programs for Latinos. The information should also be available to the general public and their political representatives, so positive programs can be used as examples to obtain more funding for effective programs, rather than advocating English Only policies and the end to bilingual programs.

Jim Bame
Utah State University
<fabame@cc.usu.edu >

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