Puerto Rican Youth School Achievement and Aspirations in Orlando, Florida, USA

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  • Title: Puerto Rican Youth School Achievement and Aspirations in Orlando, Florida, USA
  • Author(s): Diana Ariza, 'Dimeji Togunde, Leonard Berkey
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: The Learner
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Learning: Annual Review
  • Keywords: Puerto Rican Youth, Academic Achievement, Aspirations, Orlando, Florida, Ethnic Groups, Immigrant Groups
  • Volume: 17
  • Issue: 5
  • Year: 2010
  • ISSN: 1447-9494 (Print)
  • ISSN: 1447-9540 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/1447-9494/CGP/v17i05/47044
  • Citation: Ariza, Diana, 'Dimeji Togunde, and Leonard Berkey. 2010. "Puerto Rican Youth School Achievement and Aspirations in Orlando, Florida, USA." The International Journal of Learning: Annual Review 17 (5): 143-178. doi:10.18848/1447-9494/CGP/v17i05/47044.
  • Extent: 36 pages


Studies have shown that Puerto Rican youth from large cities such as New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia do poorly in school compared to other Latinos and ethnic immigrant groups due to their low socio-economic status. However, while youth academic achievement and aspirations have received scholarly attention, there has been little research on the educational aspirations and achievements of Puerto Rican youth in different and rapidly growing cities like Orlando, Florida. This paper fills that gap and also compares Puerto Rican achievement with other youth in the Orlando area. The availability of a recent data set consisting of over 2,000 surveys of high school students in Metropolitan Orlando has enabled us to unravel factors that may influence or shape the academic performance and aspirations of immigrant or second generation youth. The results show that ethnic background, family structure, and parental socio-economic factors are important determinants of youth academic achievement and aspirations. Indeed, youth who were raised in two-parent households, whose parents had a college degree, and also earn a higher income (especially, over $80,000) are significantly more likely to receive an academic award, earn better grades (mostly A’s), enroll in more challenging academic programs (such as International Baccalaureate), and aspire to prestigious professional occupations. However, Puerto Rican youth achievement and aspirations are lower compared with youth from other ethnic groups. Consistent with previous studies, Asian Americans (Koreans) were found to be the highest achievers, followed by Colombians, and White Americans. When comparisons are made between Puerto Ricans born in the USA and those born on the Island, most measures of youth performance and aspirations are not significantly different, even when parental social status is controlled.