Background/Context: The educational performance of Latina/o students in the United States is becoming a central concern in education policy and reform. In an attempt to explain variation in the academic achievement of Latina/o students, considerable sociological and economic research has emerged. Even though the contributions of these studies are of great benefit, there remain important knowledge gaps.
Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: The purpose of this study is to offer an alternative explanation for the variation in Latina/o students’ academic and nonacademic outcomes by using an integrated theoretical framework—funds of knowledge—that takes into consideration the many resources, skills, and knowledge inherent in Latino households.
Research Design: This study uses quantitative methods to examine the relationship between funds of knowledge and Latina/o students’ academic and nonacademic outcomes. A random sample of 212 Latina/o students enrolled in grades K through 12 was selected to examine the association between funds of knowledge and Latina/o students’ academic outcomes—reading and academic achievement, and nonacademic outcomes—literacy practices. The data for this study were drawn from the survey responses to the Latino/Hispanic Household Survey and from student achievement data.
Findings/Results: Results obtained from the factor analysis suggest the emergence of six theoretically relevant factors: social reciprocity, household frequent activities, parental educational philosophy, parental language acquisition, English literacy-oriented activities, and Spanish literacy-oriented activities. Multiple regression analyses indicated the existence of a significant association between some components of funds of knowledge and students’ academic and nonacademic outcomes.
Conclusions/Recommendations: This study’s findings suggest that Latina/o students and families do engage in many different activities that contribute to students’ academic and nonacademic outcomes. So, instead of viewing Latino families as needing remediation services and lacking resources to support students’ learning, it is critical to build on their life experiences, knowledge, and skills. It is also clear that there is need to refine the approaches and methodologies used to explain and understand the academic and nonacademic outcomes of Latina/o students.