Study and analysis of academic skills of newcomer high school students who are foreign born in Central Texas
Lenoir, Gloria Irma Cisneros
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The foreign-born population in the United States increased by 57% from 1990 to 2000 (U.S. Census, 2003). A substantial growth for minority and immigrant population groups is projected to continue over the next 20 years, and these newcomer students tend to have lower measures of achievement (National Center of Education Statistics, 2007). Most of the research available is for early grade students. A paucity of research exists for high school student newcomers. This study reviewed a single public high school as a case study in a Central Texas school district, focusing on newcomer immigrant students in Grades 9 and 10. This study adds to the understanding of educational needs for new immigrants, existing educational services for them, strategies in place to narrow the achievement gaps between immigrant and nonimmigrant students, and policies that should be developed or expanded in order to ameliorate their educational conditions. Research questions were (a) what are the achievement gaps between 9th-grade, newcomer immigrant students in Central Texas and their nonimmigrant peers; (b) what are the academic needs of 9th-grade, newcomer immigrant students in Central Texas; and (c) what strategies exist to narrow the achievement gaps between immigrant and nonimmigrant students? Evidence was found that indeed a subpopulation of immigrant teenagers arrives with significant gaps in schooling. This study revealed value in innovative, visual instructional techniques; encouraged development of interpersonal advocacy; and the most potent contribution, thoughtful and empathetic administration and teachers. Determining effective strategies, support systems, and appropriate school climate while finding other elements that work in other locations make for a successful school for newcomer immigrant students.