AbstractsEducation Research & Administration

Voices unheard: a look into the elementary at-risk student experience

by Nikole Suzanne Salinas

Institution: California State University – Sacramento
Department: Education (Multicultural Education
Degree: MA
Year: 2014
Keywords: Academic resiliency; Title I schooling; Teacher perceptions
Record ID: 2043954
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10211.3/131573


Students who have been labeled ???at risk??? because of their academic struggles often go through a negative classroom experience because of teacher perception and bias, accountability, and the self-fulfilling prophecy. This is a problem because these negative experiences can become progressively worse through the years, impacting students??? sentiments toward school. If students view school as a place where they feel defeated and unaccepted, they are more likely to start falling behind, which could eventually lead to them failing or dropping out of school all together. Without an adequate education, students are less likely to obtain a quality job and earn a decent living. This impacts the economy in terms of what they can offer as a productive member of their community and what they are able to contribute to society in an increasingly competitive world market. Those students that are particularly affected by these negative experiences in the classroom are marginalized groups, such as Hispanic and African American students. These struggles in school are even further compounded for students from low-socioeconomic backgrounds that were found to be ???more likely than other students to be deficient in basic mathematics and reading skills. These students were also more likely than other students to drop out between the 8th and 10th grades??? (National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 1992, p.V). According to the California Department of Education, minorities accounted for over half (71.55%) of the state???s Graduation Cohort in 2012 (http://www.cde.ca.gov). On a national level, minority students comprise a majority of our schools??? populations and therefore, the way these students experience school is a definite cause for concern. If students find school to be an unpleasant experience, especially in the early years, they will more than likely develop negative sentiments toward school. Students who harbor these feelings run a heightened risk of dropping out, let alone achieving the educational attainment they are capable of. The data will be obtained through open-ended teacher surveys, Likert Scale student surveys, and one-on-one student interviews. All surveys and interviews will take place at the same elementary school site, and will be compared to each other for analysis and statistical differences. After obtaining the results from the teacher surveys as well as the student surveys and interviews, several connections emerged between the data and the literature reviewed in preparation to conduct the current research study. These major themes included: Critical Pedagogy, Students??? Lived Experiences, Academic Resiliency and Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. The study began with the assertion by the founder of Critical Pedagogy, Paulo Freire, which stated, ???World and human beings do not exist apart from each other, they exist in constant interaction??? (1970, p. 50). When the teacher and student data was compared to one another, this seemed to be an issue. There seemed to be a lack of interaction…