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IES Grant

Title: Project LEAPS: Latino Education After Public School
Center: NCER Year: 2020
Principal Investigator: Martinez, Charles Awardee: University of Texas, Austin
Program: Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Context for Teaching and Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (07/01/2020 - 06/30/2024) Award Amount: $1,400,000
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R305A200387

Co-Principal Investigators: Lorenzo-Blanco, Elma; McClure, Heather

Purpose. Latinos are the U.S. racial/ethnic group with the lowest levels of educational attainment. At the same time, Latino parents perceive education as vital to their children's future. Although most Latino adolescents identify postsecondary education as important, many do not pursue it due to limited knowledge and confidence about their readiness. The purpose of this project is to develop and test LEAPS, an intervention that intervenes simultaneously with Latino parents, students, and school counselors and teachers each of whom can play a critical role in preparing the whole family for a student's postsecondary success.

Project Activities: Researchers will develop, refine, and test LEAPS. They will use a quasi-experimental design to complete the pilot test of the intervention, and conduct a cost analysis.

Products: Researchers will produce a fully developed intervention, LEAPS, as well as evidence of the promise of the intervention at improving Latino students' postsecondary success. They will share findings via conference proceedings and peer-reviewed publications.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The study will take place in the Austin Independent School District (AISD) in Austin, Texas, an urban setting with a high concentration (~56 percent) of Latino students.

Sample: The researchers will recruit 150 Latino students who are in 8th grade at baseline (n = 150), 1 of their parents (n = 150), and counselors and teachers (n = ~60) from 6 high schools for a total of 360 participants in the full study (half control, half intervention). They will also conduct focus groups and a pilot trial with students, parent, counselors and teachers (n = ~30). The family sample is representative of Spanish-speaking Latino parents with middle school students attending school in the US.

Intervention: Using a motivational interview, intervention sessions, and two summer academies prior to students' 9th and 10th grade years, LEAPS is designed to teach parents and students how to prepare for a student's postsecondary education and completion. Counselors and teachers will learn how to respond to the specific challenges that Latino parents and students face in the U.S. education system in relation to postsecondary aspirations and plans.

Research Design and Methods: Based on its experience developing parent-school engagement interventions for Latino middle school students, the research team will develop a new set of intervention components targeting postsecondary readiness skills for Latino high school students. During the initial stage of research, the team will develop protocols and curricula for a set of activities including an initial motivational interview between each student and their counselor, summer academies including students and parents, and school meetings including students, parents, and teachers. Researchers will iteratively refine these procedures as they test LEAPS using a multi-wave design. Researchers will assess participants three times: at baseline (Wave 1), 1 year post-baseline (Wave 2), and 2 years post-baseline (Wave 3). They also will collect academic achievement and school record data (test scores, grades, credits earned, attendance, discipline, etc.) for the students' 8th through 10th grade years. In addition, the research team will collect evaluation, satisfaction, and fidelity data at the end of each intervention session and at the end of the program from participants and facilitators.

Control Condition: Participants (n = 180) in control schools will receive services as usual.

Key Measures: From students and parents, the research team will elicit responses about social contextual factors, knowledge of and instrumental skills and behaviors related to postsecondary readiness, self-efficacy and confidence. From counselors and teachers, the team will assess their understanding of the challenges that Latino students and families confront in the education system and how to best support Latino students and families to prepare for postsecondary education.

Data Analytic Strategy: Using regression in multi-level framework (i.e., Mplus), researchers will test the efficacy of the intervention on changes in parent and student knowledge, skills, and behaviors related to their readiness for postsecondary education and completion. The team also will assess counselor and teacher changes in relationships with students and parents.

Cost Analysis: Researchers will conduct a cost analysis of LEAPS using the ingredients method.