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Arizona and New Jersey high school graduation policy discourse analysis for Hispanic and Native American students

Cole, Jaime Dawn (2022) Arizona and New Jersey high school graduation policy discourse analysis for Hispanic and Native American students. Doctoral thesis, Northern Arizona University.

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This qualitative case study uses comparative case study methodology with discourse analysis to compare Arizona and New Jersey regulations, policies, procedures, and practices influencing high school graduation rates for Hispanic and Native American youth. National and state reports (NCES, 2019) indicated a gap between high school graduation rates for Hispanic and Native American students with European American peers, but questions remain about the graduation rate gap phenomenon from the perspective of policy and superintendents who actively engage in finding solutions. The qualitative, discursive results indicate asset-building discourse from superintendents brought forth missing information in policy beyond the deficit model of students and the overreliance on assessments and cost analysis of intervention programs. Extant research focuses on the national or state policies (macro) or the effect of policies using accountability test scores in school (micro) level when making policy decisions. Highly experienced superintendents who participated in the study know there are many more factors that contribute to student success beyond testing, such as all the variables that influence student test results. Multiple sources were used in the discourse analysis, including artifacts, policy documents, and superintendent panel discussions. From the findings, asset-building discourse promoted solutions that are often difficult to apply due to competing political agendas in funding, curriculum, and assessment policies. In summary, a shift from deficit model policies to asset-based policy approaches is needed to increase Native American and Hispanic high school graduation rates. The main findings include: 1. Using collaborative or distributed leadership, including governance partnerships, along with community businesses, colleges, and organizations that align to collaborate on federal, state, and local policies, 2. Promote a welcoming environment for students and families without A-F labels, 3. Flexibility in federal and state funding and instructional time especially related to grants, and 4. Asset-based use of assessments and curriculum to tailor to students’ interests and bridge learning pathways beyond high school to create a meaningful learning experience, which is especially needed in rural communities. Moreover, qualitative focus groups with superintendents indicated concerns that Native Americans and Hispanic youth have internalized the failures of educational deficit policies for too long. The dissertation concludes with implications for research, policy, and practices that support and empower students, and the asset-based policies to guide future generations.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Publisher’s Statement: © Copyright is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the Cline Library, Northern Arizona University. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Keywords: Arizona; high school graduation rate; Hispanic; Native American; New Jersey; policy discourse analysis
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1603 Secondary Education. High schools
NAU Depositing Author Academic Status: Student
Department/Unit: Graduate College > Theses and Dissertations
College of Education > Educational Leadership
Date Deposited: 02 Jun 2023 18:34
Last Modified: 02 Jun 2023 18:34
URI: https://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/5954

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