Penn McNair Research Journal


Hispanics, the nation’s largest ethnic minority, are largely characterized by their low levels of education and Spanish-speaking backgrounds. In 1989, 96% of Hispanic school-aged children lived in homes where Spanish is spoken at home. Because many Hispanics speak Spanish at home, this study seeks to explore the association between foreign language use at home and academic achievement. Using data from the Texas Higher Education Opportunity Project, preliminary cross-tabulations find that home language use does not sufficiently explain academic achievement patterns across race/ethnic groups. However, a strong correlation is shown between parental academic background and academic success. Bivariate analyses find that Hispanics who have at least one parent with a college education will perform significantly better and narrow achievement gaps between Hispanics and Whites and Asians.