Where They Fit: The Under-Representation of Minoritized Students in Advanced High School Coursework in Communities of New Diversity

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Where They Fit: The Under-Representation of Minoritized Students in Advanced High School Coursework in Communities of New Diversity

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2021-05

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I focused this study on the process of course selection by minoritized populations in high schools with new diversity to illuminate potential reasons and solutions for the continuing disproportionality between school demographics and the number of minoritized students taking and succeeding in advanced courses. I used a two-site case study design and investigated two public high schools in peri-urban communities in the Upper Midwestern United States. By understanding the obstacles that keep minoritized students from enrolling in and having success in advanced coursework, particularly in schools with smaller and newer minoritized student populations, educators will be better equipped to identify those obstacles in their context, and determine a way to eliminate them for the benefit of all minoritized students. The results of this study showed that the effort to shrink and potentially close the opportunity gap in advanced high school coursework needs to focus on the following: making minoritized students comfortable at school and leveraging that comfort to move more students into advanced coursework; recognizing how the concept of access to advanced courses is perceived by students and staff, and using that understanding to better inform efforts to make advanced coursework truly accessible to minoritized students; understanding the full impact of student-teacher relationship on student’s willingness to pursue advanced coursework; getting teachers to acknowledge the attitudes, perceptions, and biases they hold and how those can shrink or grow the gap; recognizing how school systems and culture impact the school pathways of minoritized students, and using that understanding to better shape those systems as a mechanism of support for minoritized students in advanced coursework; understanding what does and does not motivate students, and using that knowledge to more effectively move minoritized students to advanced coursework.

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University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2021. Major: Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development. Advisors: Peter Demerath, Gary Prest. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 165 pages.

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Leer, Joel. (2021). Where They Fit: The Under-Representation of Minoritized Students in Advanced High School Coursework in Communities of New Diversity. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/223155.

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