Puerto Rico, one of two US territories in the Northeast and Islands Region, has nearly 500,000 pre-K–12 public school students in about 1,500 schools across urban centers and rural areas. Spanish is the primary language of instruction, with English taught as a subject, beginning in kindergarten. More than half of students live in poverty, and 91 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. As a result, nearly all of Puerto Rico’s schools are Title I schools serving under-resourced, high-need students. One issue distinct to Puerto Rico is how to address educational disruptions caused when students migrate with their families back and forth between the island and the mainland United States.
Despite these challenges, Puerto Rico has an over 90 percent literacy rate. In 2011, the US Department of Education awarded $153.6 million in School Improvement Grants to help Puerto Rico turn around its persistently lowest-performing schools. Education leaders and policymakers also are currently focused on using data to increase high school graduation rates. REL-NEI is helping with these efforts through the following research alliance:
Email State Liaison Sandra Espada.