Date of Award

Summer 2013

Access Restriction

Campus Access only dissertations

Degree Name

Doctorate in Education

Department

Education

School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Jill P. Bickett, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Antonia Darder, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Mary K. McCullough, Ph.D.

Abstract

The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine Latinas’ access to Advanced Placement/ Honors courses in a Catholic female single-sex high school and to examine their experiences and perspectives when they are granted or denied access into an AP/Honors course. This study also aimed to explore how the Catholic single-sex high school is aligned with the Catholic, single-sex, and Advanced Placement advantage for Latina students who have been granted or denied access to an Advanced Placement/Honors course. The case study focused on one Catholic all-female high school in the Western United States and participants included Latina current students and alumnae (n=11), the high school principal (n=1), and teachers (n=2) from the school. Data was collected via document review, the gathering of descriptive data, as well as participant interviews. The theoretical framework used to analyze this data was a blend of Critical biculturalism, Chicana feminist theory, as well as the principles of Catholic social teaching. Findings highlight a fairly exclusive AP/Honors placement process with unclear guidelines to be followed in order to appeal a decision. Latinas’ experiences range from feeling like outsiders and being made to feel not good enough, to feeling competitive and being resilient. Their perspectives on why they decided to appeal the decision of their placement had to do with their feeling that they had the capacity for advanced work, their driven nature, and their desire to be exposed to more learning. Further, perspectives also emerged concerning the school’s sisterhood and its influence on issues of race and class. In regards to alignment with the Catholic, single-sex, and AP advantage the data illustrates that while participants seemingly agree that there are advantages, they are also cognizant of other factors that overshadow these advantages.

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