Purpose: To test an integrative developmental model of Latino children’s academic development by examining universal and culturally-specific characteristics of the early childhood ecological context as predictors of student academic achievement in Grade 3.

The high school dropout rate among Latinos in the US is unacceptably high at 41%, and even higher in large urban centers such as New York City, where only 50% of Latino students complete high school. A wealth of data suggests that high school dropout is determined by developmental transactions between child, family and school factors that unfold and interact over time beginning in early childhood. In view of the robust theoretical and empirical literatures documenting the importance of early schooling for later academic achievement and well-being, Calzada and her team developed ParentCorps (PC) to support the social and behavioral context for early learning and promote the long-term academic achievement of ethnically diverse children from urban, disadvantaged communities.

With the ultimate goal of modifying and disseminating PC as a strategy for reducing the well-documented achievement gap, this study will test an integrative developmental model to examine both universal (e.g., parenting and classroom practices, early learning) and culturally-specific (e.g., cultural socialization in the home, culturally responsive teaching, student ethnic identity) variables as determinants of the academic trajectories of Latino students from Pre-K through G3. In testing this model, we will examine: 1) malleable cultural processes unique to the Latino population to identify those that may need to be more directly targeted by PC to effectively promote academic achievement, and 2) social characteristics of Latino families and schools that may moderate the impact of PC on academic achievement to identify the subgroups for which modifications to PC should be considered.

This IES-funded study takes advantage of an ongoing, prospective longitudinal study (NICHD-funded to PI Calzada; 2010 – 2015) of Latino students not exposed to the PC intervention but at high risk for academic underachievement. This study, the only of its kind to test an integrative developmental model with two large and growing Latino subgroups, examines the family and school environments of Mexican and Dominican  Pre-K and Kindergarten (K) students as predictors of early learning in Grade 1. The investment in understanding early academic trajectories among specific Latino subgroups is an important first step toward our goal of reducing the achievement gap. This IES study continues these efforts with this unique dataset to examine the family and school environments in Pre-K/K as predictors of academic achievement in G3.