Date of Award

1-1-2012

Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Department

Educational Leadership and Policies

Sub-Department

Educational Administration

First Advisor

Lynn Harrill

Abstract

The United States' Hispanic population increases every year. The discrepancy in student achievement between Hispanics and the majority population is often a result of the challenges Hispanic students encounter that many native English speakers do not face, including second-language acquisition, acculturation, and poverty. This qualitative case study examined the factors leading to Hispanic student success in a Title I elementary school in South Carolina.

The issues addressed in this study were teacher practices in working with ELL students, teacher and parental strategies for successful home and school collaboration and academic assistance, and student strategies for finding success in the academic setting. The research questions addressed personal attributes of students and existing supports and barriers related to student academic achievement.

The participants in my study were three third graders of Mexican descent, their parent(s), and their homeroom teachers. The school I studied - Water Town Elementary (pseudonym) - is a Title I designee located in the upstate of South Carolina. Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Systems Theory (1994) served as the lens through which I condensed and organized data.

After analyzing participants' textural descriptions, seven major themes emerged with regards to the personal attributes that led to academic success for these students: altruism, creativity, self-esteem, perseverance, work ethic, regard for education, and responsibility. The supports for these students included family assistance and parenting styles within the home environment; multicultural curriculum, teaching assistance and strategies, classroom environments, assistance from friends, ESOL services, parenting assistance, and outreach within the school environment; and friends and neighbors, professional help, and community outreach within the community environment. The barriers to academic achievement that emerged from this study were language acquisition, teacher training, and communication between the home and school.

These themes emerged across participants' narratives. Their experiences were reported to assist educators in providing English-language learners with insight into how to best serve this growing body within the United States' student populace. In addition, pedagogical implications and recommendations for further research were discussed.

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