Home Articles Reader Opinion Editorial Book Reviews Discussion Writers Guide About TCRecord
transparent 13
Topics
Discussion
Announcements

The Promise and Limitations of a College-Going Culture: Toward Cultures of Engaged Learning for Low-SES Latina/o Youth


by Steven Z. Athanases, Betty Achinstein, Marnie Willis Curry & Rodney T. Ogawa — 2016

Background/Context: Literatures on college-going cultures offer patterns and lists of practices that promote schoolwide attention to college-going for nondominant youth, often with organization-level analyses of policies and procedures. Other literature identifies promising practices and challenges to conventional instruction, often examining pedagogical discourse. Seldom are ideas from these two literatures brought together to examine promises and tensions of effectively preparing youth of color for higher education. Our study examined both school and classroom levels to develop such understanding.

Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: The purpose was to learn how high schools committed to reversing historic underrepresentation of low-SES students of color in higher education may leverage two dimensions of schooling to hit this goal: development of a school-wide college-going culture with norms and roles that articulate high expectations and provide extensive supports toward college admissions and academically engaging classroom experiences that include rigorous and meaningful disciplinary challenges, supported by language-rich communication, collaboration, culture, and context. To learn about one school’s complex college-for-all efforts, we asked: How is a college-going culture enacted at the school, and by whom, to support Latina/o students in gaining access to college? What is the nature of academic engagement at the school that may help prepare Latina/o students for college?

Setting: Urban College Academy (UCA) is a public charter high school whose population was 98% Latina/o, 35% English learners, 81% receiving free/reduced price lunch. UCA’s entering students were predominantly two or more years below grade level in reading and computing, according to standardized tests. The school explicitly recruits students who have previously failed a course, and the mission statement identifies “underachieving students” as UCA’s target population. Students are mostly of Mexican origin, with roughly 80% first generation.

Population/Participants/Subjects: We collected data from school leaders, teachers, counselors, parents, and students. At classroom level, we selected six focal teachers (diverse in subject areas, ethnicity/race, and gender). We examined work and perspectives of focal students representative of academic performance and English language proficiency per focal class.

Research Design: We treat UCA as a “critical case,” holding strategic importance to the problem on which the study focuses. Using qualitative methods, a survey, and structured observation scores, we worked to integrate, associate, and counter themes and findings between and across school organization and classroom levels.

Data Collection and Analysis: School-level analysis focused on normative social structures (goals, values, norms, and roles); resource allocations associated with advancing a mission to promote Latina/o students’ academic success and college acceptance; and factors UCA identified as relevant. Drawing on over 40 hours of transcribed interviews with a wide range of participants, we developed themes and triangulated with other data. Classroom observation data were analyzed using CLASS and Standards Performance Continuum protocols, supported by other analyses. Teacher cases used teacher history and reflections on practice; videos, annotated fieldnotes; materials of teaching; and student work samples and focus groups. We found comparisons, contrasts, and tensions across lessons and classes; one case emerges as “a pocket of promise.”

Conclusions/Recommendations: The study reveals a need for ongoing attention to both a college-going culture and instructional interactions. It highlights distinctions between college talk (talk about college) and college-level academic discourse, or socialization versus academic functions of schooling for college access and success. The study uncovers promising instructional interactions, as well as tensions, in engaging low-SES, Latina/o students in academically rigorous work. Results suggest schools supporting low-SES youth of color may need a schoolwide culture of engaged learning that is rigorous, meaningful, and infused throughout school.



To view the full-text for this article you must be signed-in with the appropropriate membership. Please review your options below:

Sign-in
Email:
Password:
Store a cookie on my computer that will allow me to skip this sign-in in the future.
Send me my password -- I can't remember it
 
Purchase this Article
Purchase The Promise and Limitations of a College-Going Culture: Toward Cultures of Engaged Learning for Low-SES Latina/o Youth
Individual-Resource passes allow you to purchase access to resources one resource at a time. There are no recurring fees.
$12
Become a Member
Online Access
With this membership you receive online access to all of TCRecord's content. The introductory rate of $25 is available for a limited time.
$25
Print and Online Access
With this membership you receive the print journal and free online access to all of TCRecord's content.
$210


Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 118 Number 7, 2016, p. 1-60
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 20880, Date Accessed: 10/21/2017 1:25:32 PM

Purchase Reprint Rights for this article or review
Article Tools
Related Articles

Related Discussion
 
Post a Comment | Read All

About the Author
  • Steven Athanases
    University of California, Davis
    E-mail Author
    STEVEN Z. ATHANASES is Professor in the School of Education at the University of California, Davis. He studies diversity and equity in the teaching and learning of English and in teacher education. Recent publications include “Scaffolding versus Structured Assistance for Latina/o Youth in an Urban School: Tensions in Building Toward Disciplinary Literacy” (with L. C. de Oliveira), Journal of Literacy Research; and “Diverse Language Profiles: Leveraging Resources of Potential Bilingual Teachers of Color” (with L. C. Banes & J. W. Wong), Bilingual Research Journal. He has received awards for distinguished research from Association of Teacher Educators (with Achinstein) and the National Council of Teachers of English, and awards for Outstanding Reviewer from the American Educational Research Association.
  • Betty Achinstein
    University of California, Santa Cruz
    E-mail Author
    BETTY ACHINSTEIN is a researcher at The Center for Educational Research in the Interest of Underserved Students at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her areas of specialization include: urban schooling to support culturally and linguistically diverse learners; development and retention of teachers of color; and new teacher socialization, mentoring, and induction. She has received an award for distinguished research from the Association of Teacher Educators (with Athanases). Recent publications include: “(Re)labeling Social Status: Promises and Tensions of Developing a College Going Culture for Latina/o Youth in an Urban High School” (with Curry & Ogawa), American Journal of Education; and Change(d) Agents: New Teachers of Color in Urban Schools (with Ogawa), Teachers College Press.
  • Marnie Curry
    University of California, Santa Cruz
    E-mail Author
    MARNIE W. CURRY is a researcher at The Center for Educational Research in the Interest of Underserved Students at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her areas of specialization include: urban schooling, teaching, and learning to support culturally and linguistically diverse learners; and teacher professional communities. Recent publications include “Organizing High Schools for Latina/o Youth Success: Boundary Crossing to Access and Build Community Wealth (with Achinstein, Ogawa, & Athanases), Urban Education; and “Being the Change: An Inner City School Builds Peace,” Phi Delta Kappan.
  • Rodney Ogawa
    University of California, Santa Cruz
    E-mail Author
    RODNEY T. OGAWA is Professor of Education and Director of the Center for Educational Research in the Interest of Underserved Students at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His research examines relationships between societal norms, structures of educational organizations, and contexts for learning these organizations afford. He is past-Vice President of Division A of the American Educational Research Association and recipient of the Campbell Award for Lifetime Achievement from the University Council for Educational Administration. Recent work includes “Change(d) Agents: School Context and the Cultural/Professional Roles of Teachers of Mexican Descent,” (with Achinstein), Teachers College Record, and “Retaining Teachers of Color: A Pressing Problem and A Potential Strategy for Hard to Staff Schools,” (with Achinstein, Sexton, & Freitas), Review of Educational Research.
Member Center
In Print
This Month's Issue

Submit
EMAIL

Twitter

RSS