05 SES 17, Location, Alienation and Migration
The paper presented here is part of the doctoral dissertation whose main focus was to determine to what extent the relationships of immigrant students can empower them to academically persist and have success in secondary schools and, in particular, transit from secondary to higher education stage. Broadly, it focuses on supportive possibilities (or not) that inhere in the relations immigrant students establish with others, and especially with school agents (confidence, trust, interpersonal openness, etc.) and its connection to their academic achievement and transition from postsecondary education to the university.
Using this dissertation as a framework, this paper presents, firstly, the results showing what young people from immigrant families reaching the second year of post-compulsory education are like and, secondly, the factors that condition or determine the construction of their successful educational careers. Of course, the educational career or history of each pupil is unique and singular, because people never approach situations with the same expectations, advantages and limits (Perrenoud, 2007, p. 105), but pupils’ paths considered together are crucial for obtaining evidence of how they construct their life experiences in the education system. This occurs in institutional contexts and in interaction with certain personal, family and social contexts.
Despite the official policy of inclusion and education for all expressed in public education policies, underachievement and drop-outs are today unsolved problems for the majority of the European countries (Commission of the European Communities, 2008). In Spain disparities between native middle-class students and immigrant students in terms of academic achievement still remain and more immigrant students than native students repeat a grade during their high school education, or are tracked into “adapted” classes which in most of the cases prevent them from continuing their studies after compulsory secondary education.
However, some children manage to do well academically, although they are the minority. In this regard, a vast range of literature (Epstein & Karweit, 1983; Smyth, MacBride, Paton & Sheridan, 2010; Stanton-Salazar, 2001; 2003; 2005; 2010; Suárez-Orozco, Pimentel & Martin, 2009; Swenson, Nordstrom & Hiester, 2008; Wolley, Kol & Bowen, 2008) notes that relationships are an important predictor of school success, apart from relationships being essential for migration processes and social integration analysis. They are closely related to the social capital and therefore determine the resources, goods and types of support individuals can access. So, they are influential elements in the configuration and development of academic trajectories of immigrant students.
The dissertation uses an explanatory sequential mixed methods design (quan QUAL = explain results) with two stages of data collection and analysis: quantitative and qualitative. We collected quantitative data first and, afterwards, a follow-up multi-case study with qualitative data. The quantitative stage was narrowly connected to a R & D longitudinal study (R&D EDU2011-25960) funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (2012-2014) which allowed us to track the path of all immigrant students of three public high schools through the first and second year of Post-16 Education. Such research generated a great deal of quantifiable data, much of it subjected to statistical analysis. In the second and third year, we decided to return to the same field to conduct another study with modified research questions and a mixed research design. Specifically, we decided to focus the study in the institutional support of the students. We investigated the institutional support from high- to low-achieving students. Of all those who already had managed to overcome the high-at-risk transition from compulsory to non-compulsory education and successfully completed the first year and now were enrolled in the last year of non-compulsory and were thinking (or not) in continuing their studies. In this paper we discuss part of the results to the qualitative phase which was conducted as a follow up to the quantitative results. In this exploratory follow-up, the plan was to explore the central phenomenon through a multi-case study approach, so we conducted 44 interviews with school administrators and teachers.
Results give a voice to the complexity and singularity of the stories of the youth from immigrant families who have got as far as the second year of post-compulsory education. The multiple case studies have made it possible to understand the academic experiences of these students from their point of view and that of the socio-educational agents. 26 young people from immigrant families were interviewed. They were born in different countries, mostly in South America, North Africa and Asia. The vast majority indicated that they were getting on well at school and that they imagined studying in the future, either in higher level vocational education or on university courses. Of the 26, however, only 3 were admitted to university, 6 to vocational education and 5 to the bridging course offering access to vocational education. The others either repeated the year, changed path, or passed but decided not to continue studying. Directly related to the continuity of educational careers is the pupil’s own desire to stay on. In the analysis of the interviews it has been seen, however, that the decisions made in the course of their careers are marked or conditioned by important factors: a) by the motivations, aspirations and strategies of the pupils themselves; b) by their own social imagined futures; c) by teachers’ advice and guidance; d) by their families’ expectations, e) by their educational careers followed. We are therefore looking at a heterogeneous group of pupils who want to carry on studying, but certain options become the only possibility they have for moving at another pace, with different demands and reconsidered aspirations. Overall, some of these in particular lead to pupils from immigrant families being more likely than their peers to be present in vocational training, which is established as an ‘exclusive’ rather than ‘inclusive’ educational option.
Commission of the European Communities (2008). Migration & mobility: challenges and opportunities for EU education systems. Croninger, R., & Lee, V. (2001). Social capital and dropping out of high school: benefits to at-risk students of teachers’ support and guidance. The Teachers College Record, 103(4), 548–581. http://doi.org/10.1111/0161-4681.00127 Darling-Hammond, L. (2003). Restructuring schools for student success. En A. H. Halsey, H. Lauder, P. Brown, & A. Stuart Wells (Ed.), Education: Culture, Economy, and Society (p. 332-337). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Devine, D. (2009). Mobilising capitals? Migrant children’s negotiation of their everyday lives in school. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 30(5), 521-535. http://doi.org/10.1080/01425690903101023 Gil, G. (2005). Formación profesional, orientación e inserción laboral del alumnado de los ciclos formativos de grado medio (Tesi doctoral). Universitat de València, Departament de Didàctica i Organització Escolar, Espanya. Recuperat de http://www.tdx.cat/handle/10803/9655 Levels, M., & Dronkers, J. (2008). Educational performance of native and immigrant children from various countries of origin. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 31(8), 1404-1425. http://doi.org/10.1080/01419870701682238 Perrenoud, P. (2007). Pedagogías diferenciadas. Madrid: Popular. Portes, A., & MacLeod, D. (1999). Educating the second generation: determinants of academic achievement among children of immigrants in the United States. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 25(3), 373-396. http://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.1999.9976693 Rhodes, J. E. (2002). Stand by me: the risks and rewards of youth mentoring relationships. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
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