ACT and ALAS Superintendent Leadership Academy Partner To Prepare Future Latino School Leaders

Posted June 21, 2011

IOWA CITY, Iowa—ACT, Inc., and the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS) recently partnered to help prepare Latino school system leaders. The objective is for Latino leaders to become superintendents of Hispanic-serving school districts in the U.S. through ALAS’ first Superintendent Leadership Academy (SLA).

The Leadership Academy will take place between July 2011 and June 2012. It will consist of six weekend sessions: leadership, strategic planning, two sessions dedicated to curriculum and instruction, a session on management systems and structures, and a final session on preparing to become a new superintendent.

“ACT is excited to be a founding partner for the 2011-2012 ALAS Superintendent Leadership Academy,” said Jim Morris, ACT director for client outreach and state partnerships. “Identifying, coaching and mentoring emerging school leaders in support of increased opportunities for the growing population of Hispanic-serving school districts is a large undertaking.”

ALAS, which means “wings” in Spanish, is a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to identify, recruit, develop and advance Latino school administrators to assume high-level roles—especially within high-poverty and minority-serving school systems—in an effort to improve the educational accomplishments of Latino youth.

“We are honored that ACT has joined ALAS to sponsor our first Superintendent Leadership Academy,” said Agustín Orci, ALAS executive director. “This is an initiative that focuses primarily on the educational needs of Hispanic youth and English language learners.”

The leadership academy addresses a shortage of leaders for school districts nationwide that serve high-poverty communities or those with significant numbers of Hispanic youth. The academy plans to implement innovative efforts that focus on improving both curriculum and instruction for Hispanic and Latino students who have often experienced achievement gaps and high dropout rates.

A recent Pew Hispanic Center report shows that Hispanics have a much higher high school dropout rate than do blacks or whites. Some 41 percent of Hispanics ages 20 and older in the United States do not have a regular high school diploma, versus 23 percent of comparably aged blacks and 14 percent of whites. The report shows that the 2009 high school graduation rate for Latinos was 61 percent versus 90 percent for Asians, 81 percent for whites, and 59 percent for African Americans of the same age group.

“ACT stands ready to assist SLA, especially in the areas of curriculum and instruction, by providing guidance and experience in identifying and implementing rigorous instructional practices—practices that lead to increased college and career readiness for all students, appropriate assessments that measure that readiness and increased articulation from educational partners serving the full K-16 educational process,” said Morris.

Of the nearly 1.6 million ACT test-takers among high school graduates nationwide in 2010, more than 158,000 were Hispanic. This represented an 84 percent increase in the number of ACT-tested Hispanic high school graduates since 2006. Eleven percent of the Hispanic ACT test-takers in 2010 met all four of the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks (versus 10 percent in 2009). Among all 2010 ACT test-takers, 24 percent of students met all four benchmarks, which are linked to success in specific first-year college courses.

“Both organizations have the same agenda to serve Hispanic students and encourage them to graduate from high school and become college ready,” Orci said.

The 2010 U.S. 2010 Census data showed that the Hispanic population is growing exponentially. The size of the U.S. Hispanic community grew by 3.1 percent in 2009 to 48.4 million people, or 15.8 percent of the total population, becoming the largest minority group in the U.S. According to Census’ estimates, this population segment will make up 25 percent of the total U.S. population, or 98 million people, by the year 2050. Hispanic students are already the majority in California and Texas and make up more than 25 percent of all students in Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico.

“By 2020, more than one in five children under the age of 18 will be of Hispanic origin, and the needs of this population must be addressed,” Morris said.