Latino Academic Transfer and Institutional Degree Opportunities (LATIDO) Project


Latinos are the largest and fastest-growing ethnic group in California, and their college enrollment numbers continue to rise faster than those of other groups in the state. But there are gaps in college outcomes between Latinos and white and Asian students, typically associated with disparities in socioeconomic status, high school preparation, and college guidance. Research indicates that Latinos are less likely than other groups to graduate with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree within a six-year time frame. And among students who have completed the requirements for transfer to a four-year university, Latinos are less likely to complete the transfer process.

In response to the low college success rates of Latinos and other underrepresented groups, California’s higher education systems have made large investments designed to improve student outcomes in recent years. Recognizing these investments, MDRC — in collaboration with the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office — launched the Latino Academic Transfer and Institutional Degree Opportunities (LATIDO) project, which aims to examine approaches to increasing the transfer and college completion rates of Latino students attending Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) in California. Research has demonstrated the value of HSIs as incubators for efforts to promote that achievement, and the LATIDO project builds on this research by examining policies and practices in California HSIs that are organized around cultural responsiveness to Latino student populations.

To help guide the project, MDRC facilitated a one-day roundtable discussion in December 2017 with experts who possess in-depth knowledge of Latino college achievement and HSI policies and practices. The resulting insights from the roundtable will inform MDRC’s approach to the second part of the LATIDO project during the spring 2018 term, consisting of six case studies of promising approaches implemented at California HSIs. The lessons gleaned from the LATIDO project are intended to further inform the larger completion agendas for California community colleges, California State University campuses, and other HSIs and colleges across the country that are making efforts to close achievement gaps.

Agenda, Scope, and Goals

In December 2017, MDRC and the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office cohosted an expert roundtable in Los Angeles, bringing together researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and funders invested in Latino college success. The resulting insights have informed MDRC’s approach to the second part of the LATIDO project: six case studies conducted in spring 2018 at six California community colleges and California State University campuses where Latino students have relatively high graduation rates or rates of transfer to a four-year college. The goal of the case studies is to investigate how college administrators and faculty and staff members deliver institutional practices that promote Latino student success and how partnerships with other schools, colleges, and local organizations further support those practices.

Design, Sites, and Data Sources

Six colleges are participating as case study sites for LATIDO: three California community colleges and three California State University campuses. The primary data collection activities used in the case studies are on-site interviews and focus groups with senior administrators, student services staff members, faculty members, and Latino students participating in campus initiatives. Observations of program activities on campus and program documents and web content provide additional information about these institutions’ approaches to improve Latino student outcomes.