An Interpretive Case Study of Stakeholders' Perceptions on the Enrollment and Progression of African American Students in High School Foreign Language Courses
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The "achievement gap" is a common term in Texas public education, often referring to academic differences in achievement among student ethnic groups within the core curriculum. Seldom is Foreign Language referenced in, nor even considered relevant to such discussions in addressing the achievement gaps that exist in our public schools, although Foreign Language holds significant influence on both students' high school and post-secondary academic trajectories. Throughout the state of Texas, it has been found that African American students are not progressing in foreign language study at the same rate and length as Hispanic, White, and Asian students; these stark achievement gaps appear to be going unmentioned, unnoticed, and/or unaddressed. This interpretive case study examined the perceptions of foreign language teachers, counselors, and administrators at a central Texas high school campus through a critical lens, regarding why they felt African American students are not progressing in foreign language courses, as compared to other student ethnic groups. Data collection for this qualitative study included individual interviews, focus group sessions, field notes, documents, and school records. For data analysis, the study employed the constant comparative method. Four general themes emerged from interviews and focus group sessions with stakeholders. These themes included deficit views, racial erasure, paralogical beliefs and behaviors, and organizational constraints, which described obstacles standing in the way of creating an equitable campus for all students. This study offers implications for educational policy, practice, and future research. For policy, Texas high school graduation requirements for foreign language should be increased and accountability measures for student learning in foreign languages should be instated. For practice, the high school should commit itself to ongoing, yearlong staff development to address equity traps at the campus. Practice should also include student performance data in foreign languages to help guide discussions about achievement gaps with African Americans and other student ethnic groups. Implications for future research include the need to examine the transferability of this study's findings to public middle school and high school campuses in Texas. Future studies should also investigate the equity trap avoidance and employment of the gaze in the context of public high school foreign language courses.
African American students
Schoener III, Herbert (2012). An Interpretive Case Study of Stakeholders' Perceptions on the Enrollment and Progression of African American Students in High School Foreign Language Courses. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from