On the Development of Culturally Competent Education Policies: Understanding Latina/o Student Wellbeing in the U.S. Educational System
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Data used for this study were collected as part of an evaluation of the Texas Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Program (GEAR UP) project. A racially diverse group of 1059 students from four middle schools in Central Texas participated in the study. Given the specific aims of this study, the data analytic sample was limited to Latino boys (n = 84) and girls (n = 103). Ages ranged from 12 to 14 years (M = 12.67; SD = .533). Participants were from low-income families, as defined by their eligibility for free or reduced-fee meals under the National School Lunch Program (USDA, 2008).
Controlling for age, gender, acculturation and enculturation, the results of a hierarchical regression analysis indicate that 27.1% of the variance in wellbeing was accounted for by all the predictive variables [F (11, 191) = 6.445, p < .0001]. Loneliness accounted for 8.4% of the variance when acculturation and demographic variables were controlled [ΔR2 = .084; ΔF(1, 197) = 20.28, p < .0001]. Support variables (teacher/student relationships, peer support, and family support) significantly contributed to variation in Latina/o adolescent wellbeing and accounted for 7.6% of the variance [ΔR2 = .076; ΔF(3, 194) = 6.59, p < .0001]. Loneliness was the strongest predictor of wellbeing in Latina/o adolescent students with lower loneliness scores related to higher wellbeing (β = -.247, p < .001).
Implications for Education policy makers are discussed and pertain to developing policies that seek to reduce the existing educational attainment gap for Latina/o adolescents in the U.S.