Latinos make up the largest ethnic group in California. However Latino students still lag behind other groups when it comes to education. This week education leaders in Monterey County discussed the achievement gap and ways to close it. The Monterey County Office of Education said in the past 20 years the number of Hispanic students increased dramatically, but major improvements need to be made when it comes to literacy.

78 percent of students in Monterey County schools are Hispanic and some of them don’t learn English until they step foot in the classroom.

"It was pretty hard to learn I was trying to learn at home but my parents were like no, they weren't born from here so it was pretty hard to learn how to speak English,” said MPUSD 8th grader, Edgar Crespo.

So many other students share Crespos experience. That’s why the Monterey County Office of Education is holding a three day symposium for 300 educators, so they can improve their skills to help English Language Learners.  

"We’re looking at leadership we're looking at what does effective instruction look like. We’re looking at what does parent empowerment look like with regard to working with the parent community and how about that social emotional learning that relationship between students and adults at the school that is going to help propel learning for kids,” said Solution tree consultant, Dr. Luis Cruz.

For 2016, only 29 percent of Hispanic students in Monterey County have met the standards for the statewide English test while 64 percent of those who passed were White or Asian.

"Schools and districts in Monterey County are working on this issue of making sure that all of our children are succeeding. The level of student’s achievement right now are unacceptable,” said Monterey County superintendent of schools, Dr. Nancy Kotowski.

Districts like Monterey Peninsula Unified have already implemented things like project based learning to teach kids interactively. School officials said its resources like that that allow Crespo to dream about college.

"I look forward to going to college because I plan on helping my parents out when they're older. I don't want them to work no more and I want to help them out so what I want to do is like, if I’m not in the level for college I’ll go to MPC and then learn on how to improve my skills and go higher colleges,” said Crespo.

The symposium to tackle the achievement gap will continue tomorrow and Friday at the Hyatt Regency in Monterey from 8 to 3pm.