“Just Getting By”: High School Latino Males at the Margin of Academic Success

This research explores the classroom experiences of young Latino males who are on the margin of academic success and failure. Conducted were 9 semi-structured, open-ended interviews. At the center of the students’ experiences was a complex relationship with school. This complex relationship with school involved, having mixed feelings about school (positive and negative). These mixed feelings were reflected in the students starting off each semester by trying to do well but not being consistent in completing schoolwork. Participants described daily microagressions by teachers and peers, along with a profound lack of high expectations for them and minimal engaged pedagogy. Participants preferred teachers who demonstrated “authentic care” and high academic expectations. Overall, high school Latino males on the margin of academic success were not giving up, they had insights and pain, along with hope and determination. Recommendations were to increase student voice for students who were in lower tracks of high school, incorporate Ethnic Studies and other content relevant to the lives of students, and build in more support and rewards for teachers who strived to engage students in the lowest tracks.