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Abstracts of ACCORD Projects



Diane Alvarez

Dissertation: Do You See What I See? A Qualitative Study of Black and Latino Adolescents’ Identity Formation

Abstract: This study will inform our understanding of the nuances of race and ethnicity in schools, specifically how young people’s racial identity is shaped by their high school context , how it is influenced by peers, and how it impacts students’ conceptions of themselves as college-going young people. Depending on what the adolescents reveal as salient, the study may help schools develop ways to connect students’ racial and ethnic identity formation to college preparation and the development of a college-going identity, including providing multicultural and multilingual social supports and diverse ethnic and gender relationships with adult workers and educators at schools

Rebecca M. Callahan
UC Davis/education

Dissertation: English language proficiency and academic achievement: Tracking, testing, and opportunity to learn

Abstract: Recent California policy decisions focus on English Learners learning academic English as the key to improving their rates of school success. However, these policies have not, in practice, produced the desired gains, and available research offers little to predict the success of the policies. Indeed, there are indications that the policies may be counterproductive because their effect is to keep English Learners from experiencing high-level, academically rich curricula. This study will investigate the relationship between English language proficiency, track or course placement, and the academic achievement of high school English Learners.

Gabriela Chavira
UC Santa Cruz/psychology

Dissertation: Latino Adolescents’ School Achievement: The Roles of Family Involvement and Students’ Ethnic and Career Identities

Abstract: This study investigates how two conditions for successful college going–a multicultural college going identity and family-neighborhood school supports–develop among Latino eighth grade students. The study begins with a theoretical model that proposes that, when provided supports and resources to challenge and navigate through obstacles, students can reach schooling success. It examines four dimensions of this success: 1) immigrant and non-immigrant Latino youth’s perception of their families’ involvement in their school achievement; 2) Latino families impressions of their involvement in their adolescents’ school performance; 3) the relationship between variation in family involvement among students on different math pathways; 4) the role of students’ ethnic and career identities in students’ school achievement.

Anthony Collatos

Dissertation: Working at the Intersection of Capital Theory: Increasing College Access for Urban Youth through Multiple Sites of Exchange

Abstract: This study documents a four-year long project that proved to be highly successful in increasing college access for urban youth identified at the start of high school as having poor prospects for attending college. The key element of this program was the ongoing engagement of the high school students as "critical researchers" who themselves studied inequitable patterns of college access for urban students of color. The study seeks to understand how students responded the program’s pedagogy, in particular whether and how engaging urban students in high-level social analysis increased their ability to gain college access.

Kathryn Olson

Dissertation: The Pedagogical Consequences of Proposition 227

Abstract: With the passage of Proposition 227, schools serving English Language Learners (ELL) faced difficult choices of abandoning all primary language instruction, continuing some instruction based on earlier bilingual education, or choosing a third English-emphasis approach. In fact, a combination of factors including legal requirements, efforts to meet ELL’s language and other learning needs, community preferences, and bureaucratic and resource constraints have produced hybrid programs and practices that require study and analysis to inform new policy that is consistent with students’ learning needs. This study documents these programs and their impact on literacy.

Mariana Pacheco

Dissertation: Reading The Effects of Reform: A Case Study of The Effects of Reading Reforms and Language Policies in a High-Achieving School with a Significant Population of English Language Learners

Abstract: This dissertation will analyze the effects of the convergence of California policies that eliminate primary language instruction (Proposition 227) and that immerse English Language Learners in English-dominant instructional contexts that isolate reading skills from content and meaning. The study challenges theories of reading and language development implied in recent policies by examining the effects of their implementation in a high-achieving school that also serves many English Language Learners. 

Samantha Scribner Bartholomew
UC Riverside/education

Dissertation: The Cultural Context of Standardization: A Study of Two Diverse Schools’ Enactments of Curriculum Standards Reform

About: Using institutional and organizational theory, this dissertation seeks to understand how and why a school district responds to new curriculum policies in ways that do or do not achieve the original policy intent. The study investigates the response to policy (the enactment of standards based curriculum reform in mathematics) at two middle schools in the district. Of particular importance is the impact of the social class and racial composition of the student body on educators’ decisions about implementing rigorous academic reforms.

Lori Wicker

Dissertation: A Social Cognitive Model of Attrition

Abstract: This dissertation proposes a model to explain the high rates of college attrition among African Americans students, and to understand how attrition factors may differ among African Americans and students from other low-income groups. The results will be used to inform interventions strategies aimed increase the college degree attainment of African Americans.




Frances Contreras
UC Davis/education

Title: What Counts as Merit in Post-209 Admissions?

In post-Proposition 209 California, the University of California struggles to find fair, legal, and practical admissions guidelines. Concepts of merit and equity remain loosely defined in public policy arenas. This study will examine the variables that have become indicators of admission and will reveal how competitive eligibility has been defined post 209.

Armida Ornelas

Title: Examining the Transfer Process for Latina/o Community College Students: A Case Study Analysis of a California Community College

Rates of Latina/o transfers from California Community Colleges (CCCs) to UC campuses are disproportionately low. This study will look at Fullerton College–a college that is relatively more successful with Latina/o transfers–in order to understand institutional policies that work to promote Latina/o transfers to four-year institutions. Using a case study method, this research will examine how the California Master Plan for Higher Education has impacted the transition of Latina/o students from Community colleges to four-year institutions; the role of the CCCs in fulfilling their transfer function for Latina/o students; and the opportunities and barriers that Latina/o students face in the transfer process to four-year institutions.

Michael J. Smith

Title: Using a Trifold Capital Lens to understand African American College Choice

This study investigates how the college choice process of urban African American high school seniors and their parents is shaped by their own economic class, by the social class context of their neighborhood, and by characteristics of their high schools. A common yet simplistic explanation for disproportionately low rates of college going among African American students is the disproportionately lower incomes of their families. This study probes deeper to understand how social and cultural characteristics of schools and communities can outweigh the powerful influence of students’ own social class.

Winnie Wang

Title: The Impact of University Outreach Programs on the College-going Population: A Mixed-Methods Approach

UCLA-sponsored outreach programs seek to increase the academic preparation and competitive eligibility of minority students applying to selective public institutions. This study will compare two UCLA outreach programs (CBOP and EAOP) that provide academic and college-going support to high school students in educationally disadvantaged schools. It will seek to identify elements in each that appear to be particularly effective in increasing competitive eligibility. The study will also examine the quality and fidelity of each of the programs and attempt to identify generic elements of successful student-focused outreach programs.


Faculty Augmentation Grants

Rebecca London, Ph.D.
UC Santa Cruz/Center for Justice, Tolerance & Community

Title: Postsecondary Education Among Welfare Recipients: What Factors Influence College Enrollment and Degree Completion?

Research suggests that welfare recipients who graduate from college programs reap considerable benefits–employment, increased earnings, and more. However, the trend in welfare policy is both to increase recipients’ work requirements and to shorten the time that recipients are eligible to receive welfare support. This study examines the welfare-related conditions that influence whether welfare recipients attend, persist in, and graduate from college programs. The study may suggest modifications to welfare policy that will increase the likelihood of financial independence for individual welfare recipients while reducing social costs.

Heinrich Mintrop, Ph.D., and Gary Blasi
UC Berkeley/education and UCLA/law

Title: Improving Learning Conditions for Underrepresented Students Through A More Effective Accountability System for Low-performing Schools

A schooling policy trend, both nationally and in California, is to pursue high-stakes accountability through testing that identifies low-performing students and schools to receive special interventions and sanctions. One representative mechanism for addressing low performance is California’s Immediate Intervention/Underperforming Schools Program (II/USP). The few research investigations into the nexus of accountability and programs to address deficiencies do not reveal salutary effects of current approaches. This study will look closely into the effects of accountability testing and its policy consequences in three California high schools serving low-income students of color; it will explore additional and alternate responses to addressing under-performance; and it will design and pilot accountability instruments and protocols that could do a better job of leveraging school and student performance.

Margarita Azmitia, Ph.D., Holli A. Tonyan, Ph.D., and Olaf Reis, Ph.D.
UC Santa Cruz/psychology

Title: The Role of Social Support in Under-represented Minority Students’ Adjustment, Identity, Grades, and Retention in Their First Year of College

Compounding the disproportionately low rates of Under-represented minorities’ (URMs’) admissions into the UC system is their lower rate of college retention and completion. This study will follow URMs during their first year of UCSC enrollment, "mapping the ebbs and flows" in their social support networks, and how these impact students’ identity and self-esteem, adjustment, mental health and grades. These data will reveal much about URM’s response adjustment to college life and may suggest policies or interventions that can enhance their experiences and retention.

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