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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Latina/o students' experiences in a small high school and college access through a critical race theory perspective and community cultural wealth model
by Loza, Carlos, Ed.D., California State University, Long Beach, 2015, 174; 3724307
Abstract (Summary)

There have been many recent changes in education focused on closing the achievement gap, yet minority students continue to fall behind. Latina/o students encounter systemic oppression in schools and society in the forms of academic tracking, classism, racism, and other biases (Bemak & Chung, 2011; Dickson, Zamora, Gonzalez, Chun, & Callaghan Leon, 2011; Hipolito-Delgado & Lee, 2007; Holcomb-McCoy, 2007; Martinez, 2003; Ortiz & Gonzales, 2000). At the elementary, secondary, and postsecondary levels, Latina/os attend schools whose educational conditions are some of the most inadequate in the United States (Oakes, 1984; Valencia, 1991). One of the most significant school reforms at the high school level is converting comprehensive high schools into small schools or small learning communities. This school structure could be beneficial in addressing some of the academic issues of minority students but also offer some cautions.

The problem under investigation in this study is the achievement gap of Latina/os students in gaining college access in comparison to their white peers (Education Trust, 2010). While small schools were created to close this achievement gap, there are still some concerns in regards to college access of these students. The purpose of this study was to explore Latina/os college students’ experiences from the same small high school on how the school helped or hindered their college access. It also explores how these students used their community cultural wealth factors in order to overcome challenges and be successful. Led by a narrative inquiry interview qualitative methodology, data was collected via 10 semi-structured interviews of college students who met the necessary criteria for this study.

Findings from this study suggested that the family feeling these students cited of being in the small school, was a factor that contributed to their academic success. The college awareness resources that were available to them with constant reminders from a college counselor also contributed to their success. Through a critical race theory lens, (Solórzano, 2001) this study also revealed institutional oppression occurred through the school’s lack of quality Advanced Placement courses, lack of diversity, and insufficient funding for extra-curricular or school activities that hindered their acceptance to prestigious universities. Further, participants expressed that they overcame these challenges using Yosso’s (2005) six community culture wealth factors.

Recommendations for this study include key curricular strategies to ensure students experiential knowledge is considered in creating the school’s curriculum. Secondly, the importance of having a robust curriculum, and the role of creating funding to offer extra-curricular and school activities will make a huge impact on Latina/os’ college access.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Slater, Charles L.
Commitee: Gordon, Jake, Huber, Lindsay Perez
School: California State University, Long Beach
Department: Educational Leadership
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 77/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, School administration, Education
Keywords: College access, Community cultural wealth factors, Critical race theory, Latina/o high school students, Small schools
Publication Number: 3724307
ISBN: 978-1-339-07776-5
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