AMES - Nearly 200 school administrators, teachers and students from across Iowa will get together this month to strategize ways to improve the outcomes of Latino students in both high school and college.
Iowa's Latino population increased by 95.8 percent, or 79,706 people, from 2000 to 2012, according to the State Data Center of Iowa.
But the four-year graduation rate for Hispanic students in Iowa's class of 2012 was 77.48 percent - nearly 12 percentage points lower than the 89.26 percent graduation rate for all students that year, according to the Iowa Department of Education.
Pictured are graduates of the Juntos program in Columbus Junction.
"We are concerned about the educational progress of our Latino students," said Larry Ebbers, a professor in Iowa State University's School of Education. "We know that there is a high number of Latino students that tend to drop out of high school, particularly males."
The second annual Iowa Latina/o Education Initiative Conference will be held Oct. 16 at the Des Moines Area Community College's FFA Enrichment Center in Ankeny. The conference is free, but participants must register by Oct. 10.
The event is co-sponsored by the Community College Leadership Program, Iowa State University along with its College of Human Sciences and School of Education, and Iowa community college presidents.
"The theme is access, choice, and completion," said conference coordinator Michelle Robinson, a graduate assistant in the School of Education who is assistant director of the Community College Leadership Initiative Consortium. "Latino students may be able to gain access to college but the more important question is do they have access to the tools necessary for degree completion?"
The conference will provide an opportunity for educators to share best practices.