Thesis

Cultural Transmission of Immigrant Latino Families: Bridging the Achievement Gap

The Achievement Gap in education exists on multiple levels, and tens of thousands of children of Latino immigrants find themselves at the lower end of the Achievement Gap in several categories: Latino ethnicity, economically disadvantaged, English Learners, and parents who did not graduate from high school. Students of this "Lower Quadruple Gap" are at the greatest risk of academic failure. Fluent English Proficient (FEP) students, however, have been able to overcome these statistical challenges. This qualitative study of FEP students included ethnographic interviews from 6 immigrant Latino families to examine families' cultural practices at home and to explore how the process of cultural transmission, including Spanish, contributed to students' cognitive development and their ability to achieve academically. Families have settled on what can only be described as a cultural island, segregated from the dominant US society, and have adapted their culture in response to their surroundings. Data from the interviews suggest that various conditions affected families' cultural behaviors, but that families were transmitting a modified version of their traditional culture to their children. Data did not include observations of cognitive-promoting Mediated Learning Experiences (MLE) during this process, but families' home environments were conducive to MLE interactions. Data also included standardized test scores, and all student-participants categorized as Fluent English Proficient (FEP) performed at grade level or above on all standardized assessments in both English and Spanish.

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