Many factors influence the schooling experience of a student. This research explores the influence of the school structure, the family, as well as policy and practice in the school setting as it relates to Long Term English Learners. I use Social Reproduction Theory, Community Cultural Wealth, and Student Voice as the theoretical frameworks to examine how former Long Term English Learners experienced school and exited the English Learner program.
I present three arguments in this research to examine and explain the educational journey of a student identified as a former Long Term English Learner. First, I argue that school personnel, programs, and the “hidden curriculum” (Jackson, 1968) emerged as key to the ability for these students to exit the EL program and pursue a college education at a four-year university. I also argue that Community Cultural Wealth (Yosso, 2005) served as a vehicle for the students in this study to become college bound. Finally, I argue that if schools are to enhance schooling experiences for English Learners, schools must practice “listening to student voice and their perspective” to inform decisions that impact this marginalized student population (Mitra, 2006, p. 7).
I conducted interviews, observations, and analyzed pertinent documents to explain the schooling experience of the participants in this study These students were driven to become college bound that resulted in their ability to exit the English Learner program, which was not an identified goal by most participants. The students in this study embraced the opportunity to select courses that fulfilled the A-G college entrance requirements and pursue enrollment in a California State University or University of California upon graduation. The results of this study indicate that the influence, direction, and motivation of parents, the school, students, and Spanish shaped how the students experienced and succeed in high school. The drive to become college bound and enroll in a four-year university upon graduation was their primary goal, not exiting the EL program.