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Open Access Publications from the University of California

CREDE is a federally funded research and development program focused on improving the education of students whose ability to reach their potential is challenged by language or cultural barriers, race, geographic location, or poverty. More than 30 CREDE-funded research projects around the country have gathered data and tested curriculum models in wide-ranging settings and with diverse student populations-from classrooms with predominantly Zuni-speaking students in New Mexico to inner city schools in Florida to California elementary schools with large populations of native Spanish-speaking students. The findings from these projects are available here and on the CREDE web site.

Cover page of Syncretic Literacy: Multiculturalism in Samoan American Families

Syncretic Literacy: Multiculturalism in Samoan American Families


On the basis of research on the Samoan American community of urban Los Angeles, the authors argue against two common misconceptions of multiculturalism:

(1) that language is a precise indicator of cultural orientation; and (2) that members of multicultural communities are in one culture at a time.

The notion of syncretic literacy is introduced to account for the ways in which the same language (in this case, Samoan or English) can be used for distinct cultural practices and the ways in which different cultural practices can be merged within the same literacy activity.

This report examines an exchange in which a six-year-old Samoan American boy involves members of his extended family in completing his homework. We see that English is sometimes used in ways that are consistent with the socialization practices typical of traditional learning environments in the home country and that different family members adopt distinct cultural strategies in their interaction with the boy within the same activity.

Cover page of Verbal Comprehension and Reasoning Skills of Latino High School Students

Verbal Comprehension and Reasoning Skills of Latino High School Students


This report examines the readiness of Latino high school students for college-level academic work based on their reading comprehension and verbal reasoning skills. We first review pertinent college admissions test data and educational survey data. Next, we go on to discuss findings from a variety of research fields that sharpen our understanding of factors that can promote or inhibit the development of verbal comprehension and reasoning skills among Latino students. Our analysis of research covers contextual factors, discourse processing, and word recognition factors related to reading comprehension and verbal reasoning performance. We conclude with a discussion of some important questions that need to be pursued in devising effective instruction and interventions based on what research has revealed.

Cover page of Conceptualizaing Academic Language

Conceptualizaing Academic Language


In much of the research literature, academic language is described in discrete linguistic terms, focusing in particular on lexis and syntax. The purpose of this report is to explore academic language on a broader discourse-level of analysis. Examining three linguistic exchanges from a bilingual elementary school, the authors show how academic tasks influence academic language discourse styles (registers) in fifth grade class lessons. The authors also compare the research literature and their own classroom research with the results of a survey on academic language that they distributed to ESL educators.

Cover page of Enacting Instructional Conversation with Spanish Speaking Students in Middle School Mathematics

Enacting Instructional Conversation with Spanish Speaking Students in Middle School Mathematics


The plight of students learning language simultaneously with content material, particularly math, spurred this study of the power of socioculturally based pedagogy, such as Instructional Conversation (IC), to increase Spanish-speaking minority students 'acquisition of English math lexicon and concepts. This article describes a series of four ICs taught by a novice teacher. The ICs were designed to promote interaction about math concepts in small groups of seventh-grade students who were ordinarily excluded from classroom participation by their regular teacher. In keeping with sociocultural theory, the IC teacher assisted students' conversation on math topics using visual stimuli, joint productive activity, and teaching that regularly urged students toward language expression on math topics. After describing the features of IC pedagogy, this paper analyzes the transcripts of the ICs using quantitative and discourse analysis. Measures of teacher and student percentages of talk, use of content lexicon, and appropriacy of student talk were obtained. Results indicated that all the students participated comfortably in academic conversation using math lexicon with increasing appropriacy and focus. Intersubjectivity emerged in the conversations and was apparently built on the students' and teacher's similar and shared experience in constructive social interaction about math. Students' participation in IC increased dramatically and stabilized across the four ICs, indicating the usefulness of this pedagogy to include often excluded language minority students in classroom interaction.

Cover page of Tracking Untracking: The Consequences of Placing Low Track Students in High Track Classes

Tracking Untracking: The Consequences of Placing Low Track Students in High Track Classes


Recognizing the inequities caused by compensatory education, tracking, and ability grouping, educators are exploring alternative practices. In San Diego, one effort to break down the barriers erected by school sorting practices is to "untrack" students.

Untracking places previously low-achieving students (who are primarily from low-income and ethnic or language minority backgrounds) in the same college-preparatory academic program as high- achieving students (who are primarily from middle- or upper-middle-income and "Anglo" backgrounds). The "Achievement Via Individual Determination" (AVID) untracking program shifts education policy for underachieving students away from a simplified or reduced curriculum toward a rigorous curriculum with increased support for low-achieving students.

The San Diego untracking program has been successful in preparing its students for college: 48% of the 248 students who completed three years of AVID enrolled in four-year colleges, 40% enrolled in two year colleges, and the remaining 12% are working, traveling, or doing voluntary work. Parents' income and education are not responsible for the impressive college enrollment figures of these untracked students. Students from the lowest income strata enroll in four-year colleges in equal or higher proportion to students who come from higher income strata. Students whose parents have less than a college education enroll in four year colleges more than students whose parents do have a college education.

In our search for the reasons behind AVID's success, we found that AVI D coordinators explicitly teach aspects of the implicit culture of the classroom and the hidden curriculum of the school. They also mediate the relationship between families, high schools, and colleges. In Bourdieu's terms, AVID gives low-income students some of the "social" and "cultural capital" at school that more economically advantaged parents give to their children at home.

Cover page of Teachers' Beliefs About Reading Assessment with Latino Language Minority Students

Teachers' Beliefs About Reading Assessment with Latino Language Minority Students


Because of the psychometric bias in much of the work on assessment, much attention has been focused on the technical aspects of assessment to the exclusion of other aspects of the overall literacy context. In particular, little attention has been paid to test users, especially in classroom settings. To date, little is known about teachers' beliefs and everyday practices regarding assessment. There is even less known about how various factors such as professional background might influence these beliefs and practices. This information is important, especially in light of the changing paradigms impacting educational practice and the increasing linguistic and cultural diversity in many classrooms.

Given this knowledge gap, the present study investigated teachers' belief systems or mental models and everyday practices regarding the nature, function, and uses of assessment with a special focus on reading with Latino language minority students. These mental models can be seen as integrated systems of concepts, scripts, and scenes which function to lend meaning to the action systems of classrooms.

Three groups of teachers (special education pull-out, bilingual credentialed, and bilingual waivered) of Latino language minority students were included in the study (n = 18 per group). Multiple methods were used in the investigation, including semi-structured interviews, a written questionnaire, classroom observation, and analysis of documents and classroom products related to assessment.

It was found that there were clear differences among the groups with the special education teachers most unlike the other two groups. In addition, there was a general discrepancy between the belief systems of a significant proportion of the teachers studied and the more constructivist and socioculturally-based principles underlying many recent theoretical and reform-based initiatives. The results are discussed in the context of both educational reform and teacher training efforts.

Cover page of Two-Way Bilingual Education: A Progress Report on the Amigos Program

Two-Way Bilingual Education: A Progress Report on the Amigos Program


The Amigos two-way bilingual education program began as a collaborative effort between the Cambridge (Massachusetts) Public Schools' departments of desegregation and transitional bilingual education. Parents, teachers, administrators, and members of the community formed a committee to explore the possibility of developing a program that would combine the best features of transitional bilingual education (for limited-English-proficient students) and language immersion education (for native English speakers). The committee sought a way to end the isolation of language minority students from the rest of the school and to provide language majority students with the opportunity to acquire proficiency in a second language.

The Amigos program commenced in September 1986 and currently serves close to 250 public school students, half of whom are from Spanish speaking homes, the other half of whom are from English-speaking homes. Half of their instruction is provided in Spanish, the other had in English.

This report describes research that was conducted on the achievement in mathematics and in Spanish and English language arts of Amigos students and students in control/comparison groups. Also presented are data collected on students' and parents' attitudes toward bilingualism and biculturalism; students' self-assessment of academic competence and self-esteem; teachers' judgment of students' academic competence and self-esteem; and social-interactional patterns among Amigos students from different ethnic backgrounds.

Cover page of Literacy Practices in Two Korean-American Communities

Literacy Practices in Two Korean-American Communities


In this report, we explore the practices of one of the fastest growing ethnic minority groups in the United States: Korean Americans. We report on a two-part study of the Korean and English literacy patterns found in two different communities: an ethnic enclave called Midbrae and an etthnically integrated area called Hill Heights. The first part was a year long ethnographic study of the two cities; the second was a telephone interview study involving a sample of Korean-American adults from each community. We conclude that literacy practices vary in the two cities. In Hill Heights, adult Korean Americans use English in order to participate in the society around them. In contrast, in Midbrae, adult Korean Americans have fewer opportunities to use English outside of their homes and many opportunities to use Korean. When they do use English, they often use it with non-native speakers. These Korean Americans may maintain their Korean literacy practices, buty they are at risk of never acquiring native-like English ones.

Cover page of Moving In and Out of Bilingualism: Investigating Native Language Maintenance and Shift in Mexican-Descent Children

Moving In and Out of Bilingualism: Investigating Native Language Maintenance and Shift in Mexican-Descent Children


Recent research has emphasized the economic, social, and cognitive advantages available to bilinguals. Yet for many immigrant groups, bilingualism is a temporary phenomenon. Most immigrant children arrive in the United States as monolingual speakers of their native language, develop bilingualism as they acquire English, establish English-speaking households, and raise their children as English-speaking monolinguals. According to survey data, even Spanish, a language thought to be particularly enduring in the United States, seldom lasts beyond the second or third generation. Despite evidence that shift toward English is occurring for many immigrant groups, most researchers have neglected to focus on the different levels at which shift occurs, the factors that influence its development, and the course it takes during individuals' lifetimes. In an effort to address these concerns, this paper reports on research that investigates native language maintenance and shift to English among 64 Mexican-descent children and their families. Although the participants in the study live in the same suburban community, they have different immigration backgrounds (Mexican-born, U.S.-born of Mexican-born parents, U.S.-born of parents who were also born in the United States.) Data sources referred to here include a variety of interviews and activities used to investigate the participants' language proficiency, attitudes, and choices.

Cover page of Mathematics and Middle School Students of Mexican Descent: The Effects of Thematically Intergrated Instruction

Mathematics and Middle School Students of Mexican Descent: The Effects of Thematically Intergrated Instruction


This paper reports the effects of thematically integrated mathematics instruction on achievement, attitudes, and motivation in mathematics among middle school students of Mexican descent. A school-university collaborative effort led to the development and testing of a thematic approach undertaken as a means of contextualizing instruction for students considered to be at risk for school failure. Instruction relied heavily on small collaborative learning groups and on hands-on activities designed to help students make real-world sense of mathematical concepts. As hypothesized, experimental and control students made equivalent gains in computational skills, but experimental students (who received thematic instruction) surpassed controls in achievement on mathematical concepts and applications. The two programs did not have a differential effect on students' attitudes toward mathematics or self-perceptions of motivation in mathematics, but motivational variables did predict achievement outcomes for both groups. Issues related to the opportunity to learn the full range of mathematics content of the curriculum within a thematic approach are examined.