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Abstracts of ACCORD Projects, 2003



Collete Cann
UC Berkeley/education

Dissertation: How Are Effective Mathematics Teachers Allocated to High School Students in an Urban School District?

Abstract: This research seeks to understand the social, political, and personal factors that influence the movement of mathematics teachers in and out of urban high school classrooms.  This includes the entry, distribution and exit of mathematics teachers into, across and out of various levels of mathematics courses.   Research has documented the importance of effective teachers in increasing students’ access to a quality education and further academic opportunities. Therefore, this study also explores how district, school, department and teacher conceptions of “effective teaching” intersect with teacher requests, department needs and district budget limitations to influence the distribution of this valued resource across student groups.

Anne Gregory
UC Berkeley/psychology

Dissertation: Defiance or cooperation in the high school classroom: understanding how school discipline policies impact the education of African American students

Abstract: A much-discussed achievement gap across racial and ethnic groups plagues the educational system. Less discussed is a gap in discipline– the burden of which falls mostly on African American adolescents. African American students are often excluded from class for “defiance”  suggesting pervasive authority conflicts between teachers and their African American students. Yet little research has explored what fuels or can prevent these negative interactions. This study includes a broad-scale review of discipline data at a large high school and an in-depth examination of how students and teachers experience defiance and cooperation. The study analyzes student beliefs, teaching styles, and discipline practices that promote trust, respect, and cooperation between teachers and students. The findings will provide insight into reducing the rates that African Americans are excluded from class for disciplinary reasons and for increasing their access to safe, engaging classrooms, which are critical for college preparation.

Eileen Lai Horng

Dissertation: What Makes Schools “Hard-to-Staff”?  Examining Teachers’ Choices

Abstract: Low-performing, low-income students of color are most likely to attend schools that have difficulty recruiting and retaining qualified teachers.  Educational policymakers and researchers have hypothesized that raising teacher salaries or improving working conditions would attract qualified teachers to hard-to-staff schools. This study will explore the these and other job features that could encourage more qualified teachers to teach at hard-to-staff schools.   The findings will provide new data to policymakers about the combination of job features that are useful in recruiting and retaining teachers in low performing schools.

Korina M. Jocson
UC Berkeley/education

Dissertation: Youth Poetry as a Tool for Promoting Literacy, Social and Academic Development

Abstract: This study examines the ways one intervention program, Poetry for the People (P4P), influences the literacy learning processes of high school youth. This study explores the impact of the program on literacy practices and learning processes associated with poetry. In addition, the study seeks to understand the ways that these experiences have contributed to the academic and social identities of students in high school and beyond. Effective strategies for teaching and learning as well as developing a college-going school culture are assessed with respect to this intervention model.

Rebecca Joseph

Dissertation: How First Grade Teachers Utilize Prescriptive Reading Curricula

Abstract: California is currently at the forefront of a national trend in mandating prescriptive early reading curricula.  These curricula exclude a focus on teaching methods and instead focus exclusively on  the use of phonics-centered direct instruction.  This approach is inconsistent with research that finds that effective literacy instruction requires multiple strategies that are tailored to the specific needs of students, particularly those with varying language and cultural backgrounds.  This study investigates how six effective California urban first grade teachers make sense of and respond to these curricula-- exploring the beliefs and ideologies, tangible tools, literacy experiences, and teaching practices that shape their overall teaching identity.  

Ryane McAuliffe Straus
UC Irvine/political science

Dissertation: Increasing Segregation as Magnet Schools Seek to Attract Middle Class Students

Abstract: In response to a state court desegregation order, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) instituted magnet schools in 1978 for the dual purposes of integrating and improving schools.  Now, however, magnets emphasize academic benefits over voluntary integration.  Although these emphases are not mutually exclusive, this change appears to have accompanied the schools’ shift from attracting and retaining both urban poor and middle class students, to a greater emphasis on attracting and retaining middle class students. The study analyzes this process by using both existing theories of public policy and emerging  understandings of racial power in urban settings.  The study  applies a social construction perspective and the policy design framework to school desegregation, and it adds Los Angeles to the body of desegregation case studies.

Roger Studley
UC Berkeley/economics

Dissertation: Socioeconomic Inequality, Ethnicity, and College Admissions

Abstract: Large socioeconomic and racial/ethnic disparities exist in college admissions. This research examines the extent to which an admissions policy that “levels the playing field” by thoroughly, objectively, and systematically accounting for the effects of socioeconomic factors on pre-college achievement can remedy these disparities. This study explores how various socioeconomic factors effect a student’s pre-college academic achievement and explain differences in achievement across racial/ethnic groups.  This analysis hopes to offer tangible recommendations for universities making admissions decisions, including how to ensure the validity of policies and how to predict the impact of such policies on the resulting pool of admitted students.  Finally it examines if using socioeconomic factors in admissions has an impact on remedying racial/ethnic disparities in admissions.



Maria Martinez-Cosio, Ph.D.
UC San Diego/sociology

Title: Parent Volunteers Becoming Parent Advocates in Urban School Reform

Reforms across the country have struggled to involve  parents from communities that are not well represented in post secondary education. This study investigates the impact of parent involvement in a contentious school reform effort heralded as one of the most comprehensive in the nation.  This study investigates how parents from different groups impact their children’s schools and schooling. It examines the varying impact of strategies used by African American, Latino and affluent Anglo groups to increase college going opportunities for their children. With a particular focus on a school reform parent advocacy program for parents who are English language learners, this research analyzes the political successes and failures of the parent groups as they sought to redistribute scarce resources and improve their urban schools.

Haley Seif, Ph.D.
UC Davis/anthropology

Title: Undocumented Latino Youth, Higher Education Access, and California’s Assembly Bill 540:  An Ethnographic Perspective

Assembly Bill (AB) 540, which waives out-of-state college and university tuition for many undocumented California youth, was signed into law in 2001. Based on participant-observation and interviews, this project records and analyzes the successful legislative and grassroots struggle for AB 540 despite the obstacles facing this highly vulnerable student population. It studies the community outreach and training activities of two LA-based non-profit organizations that help undocumented Latino youth avail themselves of increased access to higher education afforded by this law. From this organizational perspective, it also elucidates the continuing barriers to entering California’s public higher education institutions for this student population.



Ingrid Seyer-Ochi, Ph.D.
UC Berkeley/education

Title: Landscapes of Educational Opportunity: Understanding the Full Context of Schooling

Focusing on four diverse San Francisco neighborhoods, this study employs GIS maps to reveal the distribution of educational opportunities and constraints for local youth. This work looks at the wider contexts of youth’s lives, and includes as school opportunity indicators factors such as housing, faith-based and community institutions, and environmental hazards. By expanding the group of indicators used to measure educational opportunities, this study will offer insights into how education policy fits into other state policies areas.

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