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How Schools Can Shape Peer Relations

gibsonTitle: How Schools Can Shape Peer Relations to Promote Achievement Among Mexican-Origin Youth

Authors: Margaret A. Gibson, Patricia Gándara, Jill Peterson Koyama

Date: June 2004

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Research shows that in the aggregate U.S. Mexican youth are completing high school and college in significantly lower numbers than young people from other major ethnic groups in this country. Something happens, or doesn’t happen, with Mexican-origin youth that precludes the vast majority from gaining access to college degrees. One important factor in shaping school participation and achievement is the nature of students’ peer affiliations and peer relationships. Peers can either be a supportive or undermining force in school achievement. Much depends on the context of the school and community. This brief examines the contexts in which peers are either resources or liabilities, and considers the ways in which schools can shape peer relations to promote greater academic achievement among Mexican-origin youth. Findings and recommendations are drawn from a newly released ninechapter edited volume entitled School Connections: U.S. Mexican Youth, Peers, and School Achievement.

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