Group Develops School Readiness Program

readingEUGENE, Ore. — Latino youth lag behind non-Latino youth in academic achievement. That’s why a Eugene research group is working to address the educational gap.

Latino youth currently comprise more than one-fifth of the U.S. youth population. Yet this sizable group of the nation’s future adults lags alarmingly behind non-Latino youth in academic achievement and high school graduation rates.

“Our main concern nationwide is the lack of achievement by Latinos, and we want a way to fix that,” said Ramon Concepcion, IRIS research associate.

So researchers at IRIS Educational Media in Eugene are creating a training program called Padres Preparados, or Prepared Parents. It’s an interactive video that will assist parents in teaching school readiness skills to their preschool aged children.

“Pre-literacy skills, emotional regulation, problem solving, skills that will help any kid entering school for the first time,” said Alex Marques, IRIS video director. “It’s so critical that parents have a strong involvement in their children’s education at a very early age.”

The program was first tested in Woodburn, Oregon, where it was a success.

“The data showed that actually the parents had better communication and more practice with their children at home,” Concepcion said.

Now researchers are reaching out to the Latino community in Lane County for this new expanded phase of the study.

Right now, researchers are looking for Spanish speaking actors to be in the videos and also to connect with groups that serve the Latino community. Then next spring, they will deliver the videos to 150 Latino families through Headstart centers.

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