Latino Adolescents' Civic Development in the United States: Research Results from the IEA Civic Education Study

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Abstract

Many studies have reported gaps between Latino and non-Latino adolescents in academic and political outcomes. The current study presents possible explanations for such gaps, both at the individual and school level. Hierarchical linear modeling is employed to examine data from 2,811 American ninth graders (approximately 14 years of age) who had participated in the IEA Civic Education study. Analyses of large data bases enable the consideration of individual characteristics and experiences, as well as the context of classrooms and schools. In comparison with non-Latino students, Latino adolescents report more positive attitudes toward immigrants' rights but have lower civic knowledge and expected civic participation. These differences were apparent even when controlling for language, country of birth, and political discussions with parents. School characteristics that explain a portion of this gap include open classroom climate and time devoted to study of political topics and democratic ideals. Results are discussed within the framework of developmental assets and political socialization. Implications for educational policy and ways to use large data sets are also discussed.

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