An Investigation of the Perceptions of Latino High School Males Who Were in Danger of Dropping Out but Persevered
Nell, Jan Elizabeth
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The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate perceptions and experiences of four Latino male students who obtained their high school diploma despite considerable adversity. An in-depth examination of the participants' academic experiences, familial impact on their education, and societal acculturation were explored to elucidate Latino male academic achievement in public high school. The dropout conundrum has serious economic and societal implications for the United States. In addition, the explosion of the Latino population in the southwestern portion of the U.S. adds another dimension to this dilemma since Latinos have a greater dropout rate than their white counterparts. However, there has been minimal qualitative literature that has given voice to students and their perceptions of academic success. Therefore, this study was conducted with individual, semi-structured interviews to give the students' voice to their story and create rich, thick descriptions for educators to understand the reasons these students were successful in school. Participants were selected from a randomized purposeful sample from the same high school. In addition, each student was interviewed three times to ensure prolonged engagement. Interviews were audio-taped and then transcribed by the researcher. Member checking, peer debriefing, artifact collection, and reflexive journaling were utilized to establish trustworthiness. The transcribed interviews were categorized to establish patterns and themes in the data. Even though the four participants were very different from each other in generational status, family environment, and personal interests, they were all able to obtain their high school diploma despite the hardships that have played a role in the failure in school of others much like these four. The students clearly articulated that treatment by the staff at school was a major factor in their academic achievement, and, even though they all came from non-traditional families, education was valued and encouraged in their homes. Recommendations for future studies include research on Latino college achievement and the role of Latino parents in their children's education.