This paper reports findings from ongoing research partnerships with inclusive classrooms and with selective and competitive outreach programs that seek to bridge the gap between school, college, and college occupations for Latinos and other underrepresented youth. The findings are based on qualitative methods (interviews, field observations, and case studies) and quantitative methods (surveys, grades, test scores, and statistical analyzes) involving more than 850 students. This study sought to answer the following questions:
to. What are the immigration backgrounds / histories and education of the parents?
B. What challenges do students’ families, peers, schools, and communities present, and what resources do these different “worlds” provide?
vs. What are the students’ pathways through the classes required for college eligibility? Y
D. How do students’ family backgrounds, resources, challenges in the worlds, and school paths predict college enrollment and eligibility?
In answering these questions, five key findings were uncovered about how Latino children build pathways to college.
Finding 1: Demographics are not destiny, but democracy requires vigilance
The demographic profiles of the students who participated in the competitive outreach programs revealed very different patterns for African Americans and Latinos. The African American students in the competitive program sample, all but one born in the United States, likely had parents born in the United States with a college education. Latino students, more than 19% of whom were born outside the country, likely had immigrant parents with a high school education or less. Thus, African American youth in the sample were following their parents ‘paths to college, and Latino youth were beginning to outgrow their parents’ education. However, other research studies have consistently found different participation rates across social class, immigration generation, and gender in college outreach programs among African American and Latino youth, who are underrepresented in the same way at four-year colleges throughout California. ; and there is concern as to why more low-income African American youth and second- and third-generation Latino youth were not participating in outreach programs. One possibility is that the Saturday and summer academies of outreach programs conflict with students’ work schedules; Another is that the distribution of information and the recruitment of outreach programs do not reach all families equally.
When factors that predict students’ long-term school trajectories were examined, little predictive power was found in family demographic backgrounds for Latino or African-American families. Other research shows correlations between parental education and children’s academic success, so why weren’t any found here? One possibility is that parental education generally predicts activities such as getting children into programs like the ones in this study. Focusing only on students in such programs may have prevented the impact of parental education from being detected. But the actions of families may be more important than demographic background.
Finding 2: Ethnically diverse youth begin to develop career and college goals in childhood from challenges and resources unique to their worlds
One hundred and sixteen sixth-grade students of Mexican descent who applied for the community college selective outreach program described their dreams of becoming doctors, lawyers, nurses, and teachers, as well as secretaries, police officers, firefighters, and mechanics. The challenges the children saw in achieving their dreams included not having enough money to pay for school, as well as the expectations of family members and peers. The children saw their families (parents, brothers and cousins); your teachers, school counselors, and coaches; his friends; and themselves as their greatest resources.
Finding 3: Mathematical paths to college diverge early, but some return to normal
Math classes and grades are useful indicators of college eligibility and career opportunities. In the competitive program sample, trajectories were found that slowly decline, rapidly decline, increase, and “get back on track” (decreasing and then increasing). Youth who stayed on track or got back on track toward college eligibility and enrollment found resources from families, teachers, coaches, tutors, or youth workers and reported challenges from modest levels of sibling and parenting education.
Finding 4: Challenges and Resources in Student Lives Affect Program Participation, College Eligibility, Enrollment, and Progress
Addressing the realities of student lives – at home, school, community, and with friends – is critical to both program improvement and profitability. In the inclusive classroom sample, parents considered their main role to be the moral guide of their children and sought to protect their children from negative peer influences. For these parents, a strong moral education includes support for academic achievement. However, not all parents are aware of the academic rigors their children face. For example, Mexican immigrant parents had high aspirations for their children to become doctors, lawyers, or teachers; however, many were unaware that these goals required a college education.
Teachers and school counselors can act as institutional gatekeepers when evaluating students against standardized performance benchmarks that determine eligibility for college preparatory, vocational, or remedial classes. When elementary school teachers and counselors disproportionately place Latino students in special education classes and low-ability reading and math groups, they send these students to remedial courses in middle and high school. But teachers and counselors, of any ethnic background, can also act as cultural intermediaries helping Latino children succeed in school and achieve their dreams.
Students report that religious, sports, and outreach leaders and organizations influenced them to accept jobs that would help their communities. For these reasons, underrepresented youth and their families often benefit from the instrumental support of community organizations that link school, college, and college-based occupations.
Finding 5: Ingredients of effective bridging programs
Beginning in elementary school, teachers can discuss the links between career dreams and going to college, define grade point averages and scholarships, and explain practical college topics that would be meaningful to school-age children. Such an education can get young children excited about college and help them set realistic goals for getting there. At the middle school level, college student tutoring, parental involvement activities, and academic advising can help “at risk” students stay on track for college. Continuing these programs in high school, as well as increasing minority enrollment in college preparatory classes, will also help expand the number of students going to college.
By helping Latino youth find pathways to success, programs can forge cross-generational links that span senior staff, young adults, and the families they serve. These loosely knit networks can foster new leadership with the cultural skills that today’s children need to succeed in an increasingly diverse world.
The young adult staff also provide children the opportunity to speak and write about their dreams of careers, education, families, and their communities. Young adults value students’ home communities and many share a common language and family history with children. Many have learned to be bicultural and can pass on their understanding of how to preserve community traditions by entering and succeeding in schools, universities, or local government. In the screened program sample, it was found that, like Latino parents, young adult staff defined success in life both in moral terms and in terms of school success. In guiding the youth, the staff drew on the positives and negatives of their past experiences. They understood the importance of grades, helped children with homework, and offered a broad view of schools, universities, and other major institutions that helped children connect their family, school, and community to their personal dreams and fears. for the future.
Our common goal is to improve access to higher education for children from diverse ethnic, racial, and economic communities. America’s ability to be a nation “where diversity works” is based on customizing outreach programs for communities, while serving common goals and collaborating among many diverse stakeholders: students, families, schools. , community organizations, legislators, the business sector and the media. These goals will be achieved by building clear conceptual models of change, testing them with evidence, and strengthening communication between stakeholders. Students’ progress through the academic pipeline from kindergarten through college and careers is often portrayed as a ball rolling straight through a sturdy pipeline. Rather, unlike the ball, which remains unchanged as it moves through the tube, students change as they move through elementary, middle, and high school toward college and adulthood. In fact, students’ development paths are more like those of explorers navigating uncharted territories, here the world of families, peers, schools, and communities; As students pursue their school, career, and other personal goals, they encounter barriers that can derail or stop their progress. Finally, unlike the robust pipeline, programs that provide bridges across gaps or barriers in student pathways are changing in response to financial resources, pressures, and losses, as well as changing political arenas.