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The Educational Impact of Involvement of Immigrant Latino Parents on Their High-Achieving 5th Grade Children

  • Author(s): Baeza, Roberto
  • Advisor(s): Morrell, Ernest
  • et al.

The questions associated with the potential influence of parental involvement on students' achievement at school have long been a focus of educational research. In particular, the involvement of immigrant Latino parents on the success of their children at school has been a matter of debate. This question is especially important with regard to students from Latino backgrounds who have the highest dropout rate across California and the United States. While the popular views are that Latino parents' involvement brings little benefit and that Latino parents are unwilling to be involved in the educational matters of their children, this study sought to determine whether these views could be validated empirically with regard to 5th graders. Specifically, the purpose of the study was to examine the level and nature of the involvement of immigrant Latino parents in their high-achieving children's school activities with the aim of establishing ways and means through which all parents can be empowered to help their children achieve academic success.

The objectives of the research were to explore immigrant Latino parents' participation in their high-achieving children's schooling; to determine how limited English-speaking Latino parents supported their children in becoming high achievers; to describe what Latino parents do in and out of school to support their children's academic performance; and to examine the home and school environment to which Latino high-achieving students are exposed for maximum opportunities for academic skills. To achieve the objectives, the author employed a qualitative research design. Specifically, qualitative data was collected from individual interviews with a random sample of ten immigrant Latino parents and their 5th grade students who have shown a pattern of high academic achievement as defined by the California Standards Tests (CSTs) over the course of three years data.

Interview data revealed that Latino parents are interested and are involved in their children's education. The involvement of these particular immigrant parents in their high-achieving children's education occurs primarily at home and secondarily at school. The study found that low educational background and specific cultural practices did not prevent these parents from being highly involved in their children's education both at home and at school. Parents mentioned their role in enhancing children's motivation, developing love for schooling, providing outside help by, for example, hiring experts to help. At the same time, the teacher-parent connection was found to be quite limited with the major obstacle being the language barrier. Students were found to positively assess their parents' involvement in their education. The findings illustrate the experience of immigrant Latino parents in promoting the education of their high achieving children. Specifically, the findings validate the importance of parental involvement in education of their primary school children and provide the background for recommendations as to making this involvement more effective.

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