A top-down approach to retention

In many ways and for a variety of reasons, I’ll take a top-down approach to research when looking at ways to improve retention rates amongst Hispanic students at private, Catholic and prep schools. One of these ways will be reading articles centered on retention rates of Hispanic students at post-secondary schools. First off, there is more research out there on supporting Hispanic students at colleges than there is at prep schools. And secondly, if I can discern ways to support Hispanic students succeed in college, certainly many if not all of the methods utilized could be used to support Hispanic students at college prep schools as well. I think that the tangential relationship between retention rates at both of these types of schools is correlative, especially since one type of school builds to the other.

I found one such article by G.M. Stern (2008) on Mercy College, a small college in up-state New York, and its attempt to recruit and retain Hispanic students. I’d like to think that an article about Hispanic college students in New York is relevant to my findings in Phoenix because I’d love to send my high school students back East for college. I think there is value to leaving one’s home state and seeing who you become away from home. One of my best Hispanic students is leaving us this fall to study engineering at Swarthmore on a full scholarship. He’s someone I’ll be interviewing for my research as well.

From Stern (2008), I found it interesting to learn that, “Of all undergraduates enrolled at Mercy, Hispanics comprise 29 percent of the student body, more than double the percentage of Latinos in the U.S. population. Last year, U.S. News & World Report named Mercy one of the seven most racially and ethnically diverse colleges in the North” (p. 2). This college in New York seems like one to keep an eye on because it is obviously doing something right when it comes to recruiting and retaining Hispanic students. One thing Mercy seems to do well is to do a lot of discernment of which students will do succeed at their college prior to students even enrolling. Stern (2008) has written, “The college is seeking students that fit Mercy regardless of their ethnic background” (p. 1). This suggest that Mercy has a strong of sense of self, knowing which students will succeed at their college because they’ve reflected upon this thoroughly prior to their enrollment process. This sounds like an important first step as schools try to better retain Hispanic students on their campuses: know thyself, to borrow a phrase from the ancient Greeks.


The author’s article was organized well and easy to follow. The headings were helpful, especially ones like “Retention Strategies.” I also found it helpful that some of its headings guided me to Mercy students where the article discussed how the students found success at the college. For instance there was Karen Quijano. Stern (2008) wrote of Quijano, “She didn’t apply to large campuses with 30,000 or so students because she considered the numbers too intimidating” (p. 3). I think that Quijano’s example goes back to Mercy College’s front-end recruitment of students they know will have success at their college. There doesn’t seem to be a point to recruiting in bulk. Rather, be it secondary or post-secondary, it seems best to really do research on the students early on in the enrollment process.

Literature Review

Stern’s article was not a bastion of well-researched theory on Hispanic education as it pertains to Mercy College, so in this case, I found his literature review somewhat lacking. Stern’s research centered on Mercy College itself, interviewing faculty, students, and administrators on the things it does well. It wasn’t just that, though. Stern also analyzed data relating to Mercy College in the context of the state of New York and colleges in general. Still, I didn’t find the depth of theory regarding why Hispanic students might do well at this college. I’m not sure if this is a negative thing or not. I plan on discussing ideas like indigenous methodologies in my research paper, but I also would like to have some “boots on the ground” data so to speak regarding tangible information from schools that are successful in recruiting and keeping Hispanic students.

Data Collection

As intimated in the previous section, Stern’s data, for the most part, comes from the analysis of college retention numbers at the school, data related to other colleges in New York and back East on the whole. Stern (2008) wrote, “Despite all of its efforts and successes, Mercy College can’t retain all of its Hispanic students. Though 29 percent of students enrolled are Latino, only 18 percent of its graduates are Latino. Why don’t the other 11 percent graduate?” (p. 5). After presenting this information, Stern went on to analyze the results and answered his own question by anecdotal evidence and interview data.


Stern did a nice job of allowing others to do his analysis for him. Just as I previously mentioned, the author asked questions like the one above and used more knowledgeable sources to provide answers. Stern (2008) wrote here, transcribing the thoughts of Carolyn Tragni, Mercy College’s assistant vice president for academic support, “’Some Latino students come in with barriers. They’re working to support families, sending money back to families, coming out of high schools that may not have prepared them for college – and for some, English isn’t their native language. We struggle like any college to retain a higher number of students’” (p. 11). The data provided by Stern supports that Mercy College is doing a good job of retaining its Hispanic students. What Tragni relates here is that each year attrition will happen with Hispanic students. I’d like to not accept this answer, and I’d like to find methodologies to offset some of the things that Tragni mentioned in this article as hindrances to Hispanic students finding success in college.

Theoretical Framework/Lens

Stern wrote his article as a researcher and inquisitor. I feel that he wrote as a reporter as well. Reporters tend to be devoid of opinions and simply want to parlay facts to readers. I found that here to some respect. His writing style does seem to distance himself from his readers. Still, the subject matter and research shows that Stern cares about the topic – or else he would not have taken the time to write about this college and its success with regards to the issue of Hispanic education. Reporters find that they must cover, for instance, car crashes or fires for whatever news source he or she works for. This topic does not cry out for public consumption and so Stern’s interest in bringing it to the attention of others proves that he does care for the population it relates to. I will say, though, that he seems very conscious of trying to relate facts and best practices without himself being a part of the data. This, I believe, only strengthens his findings.

Findings & Conclusions

Stern, through using this small college in New York, has found two things that interest me in my pursuit of finding better ways to recruit and retain Hispanic students at private, prep, and Catholic secondary schools. First off, know your own school and student body well and find students who fit profiles of success at your school. This seems very important. Schools must consciously reflect upon what types of students can and will do well by reflecting upon the types of successful graduates it has had previously. Once this reflection occurs, the rest follows much more smoothly. Secondly, support your students.  Stern (2008) quoted the assistant vice president once again, “What’s the key to attracting Latino students to a private college? The ‘holistic’ approach works best, Tragni said, combining one-on-one assistance from an advisor, identifying problems early, providing academic support and offering career development” (p. 12). I think one-on-one advisors, which is, of course, not something unique to other colleges and universities is vital here with Hispanic students, but, more so, it centers on how well these advisors are utilized. Students at post-secondary or secondary private schools need means of support throughout the entire school process. From Stern’s piece I’ve gleaned that the front-end recruitment process seems the most important with multiple means of support as something that is imperative as well.


Stern, G. M. (2008). Mercy College: A retention model for Hispanic students. The Hispanic    

          Outlook in Higher Education, 18, 55-57. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com



Some good can come from this

Kevin was not the name of my sixth grade bully – it is the name I’ll use here to reflect upon him, though. I could just as easily call him Voldemort, the dark lord, or he who will not be named. Yes, I have been watching and reading a lot of Harry Potter this summer with my children in between all the readings and papers in the three doctoral classes I’m taking right now.

harry pI’ll never forget Kevin. He was the new kid back in sixth grade. He was the bully. He was the boy who was constantly in trouble. And, he was the boy who struggled to read. I learned a lot from Kevin that school. It was his one and only year at my school, and in that year, I learned a lot about what not to do. When I think back upon Kevin, there was real value in me knowing him because his behavior reinforced all of the good things I’ve been taught by him doing the opposite. Kevin wasn’t the only “Kevin” in my school career. He and people like him taught me a lot over the years, and I wonder who I’d be today if all my classes were homogenized, and I wasn’t able take classes with all of those Kevins.

Schools, it seems, are trending towards classroom grouping.  Any given fourth grade at any given grammar school might have its “high-achieving” class, its group of middle or average students grouped together, and a “low achieving” class.  The thinking, of course, behind this grouping is that it allows teachers to concentrate their teaching on all the low students at once or all the high.  No longer would a teacher have to teach multiple lessons at once considering both his or her high group and low group in the context of a single lesson.  This seems much easier for teachers.  It seems as if these manufactured, homogeneous classes would benefit learners as well, but do they?

Is there value in having “slow kids” in your classroom if you are a high-achieving student?  Do heterogeneous classrooms further learning for low-achievers since they can learn and model themselves after some of the higher achievers in the class?  If schools and teachers edit out all types of heterogeneous-ness to coin a phrase, does that ultimately benefit learners?

I think of classrooms from 50 or 60 years ago.  There wasn’t a movement back then to mix classrooms according to standardized test data.  All sections of fourth grade classrooms at that same hypothetical school referenced prior were mixed up randomly in that era.  This may have been okay because schools tended to me more homogeneous themselves back then.  Now, with immigration, refugee populations, and more movement from state to state than prior, schools are decidedly more heterogeneous.

Pivovarova’s “Should we track or should we mix them?” explores issues related to the “to be or not to be” of the current state of education. Pivovarova (2014) starts with this premise, “The standard argument in favour of tracking is that it is easier to teach a group with small variance of abilities” (p. 2). It does follow logically that tracking does make teaching easier. The question that then arises is: are things that are easier for teachers necessarily better for students? Pivovarova goes on with her studies and uses mathematical formulas to advance arguments on whether or not schools should track. She (2014) writes, “To put the numbers into perspective, a high-achiever being surrounded by good peers gains a quarter of standard deviation in test score for every standard deviation increase in the average ability of classmates, while a low-achiever gains 0.15 of standard deviation – still a sizable improvement” (p. 16). The numbers seem clear here. High-achievers make everything better. Still, high-achieving students are a limited resource in classrooms. Is it better to group them to promote the learning of all high achievers or should they be better “utilized” helping low-achieving students – and, is that even ethical, to use high-achievers consciously to better other students? Pivovarova (2014) relates, “For instance, a teacher might need to adjust her instruction to tailor it to the largest share of students in class – the high achievers. That might have an adverse impact on low achievers and even on the average students. At the same time, if there are spillovers from good students, then a larger share of high-achievers would have a positive impact on everyone in the classroom” (p.18). These decisions remind me a lot of playing chess, or possibly there are the decisions a general would make in war. How do schools and teachers best utilize their students to best promote growth in classrooms?

I do not envy these types of administrative decisions. I almost couldn’t blame them if they all just decided to randomize classes again if only for the ease of it all. Again, though, I do think there is value in this type of randomization. I probably wouldn’t have met Kevin otherwise, and in doing so, I may not have learned all those valuable lessons of what not to do.


Pivovarova, Margarita (2014). Should we track or should we mix them?

You take the good, you take the bad


Pinto Alicea, I. (1995, Sep 15). RESEARCH: The state of Hispanic education. The Hispanic        Outlook in Higher Education, 6, 10. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/219213390?accountid=41434

Pinto’s (1995) article “The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education” focuses on Hispanics and teaching positions in higher education. The numbers are growing with Hispanic women making the most progress with regards to becoming full-time faculty at colleges and universities (Pinto, 1995, p. 1). The author points out the good the and bad with regards to Hispanics working at higher institutions as members of the teaching faculty. The numbers continue to trend upwards in terms of progress being made, but the author goes on the immediately compare this progress to drop-out rates.

Pinto references an American Council on Education report. Pinto (1995) here describes some of the data found in the report: “The report also found that the Hispanic drop-out rate in 1993 was 27.5 percent, nearly four times the rate for whites. Hispanics comprised 29 percent of all dropouts even though Hispanics account for only about 12 percent of the 16- to 24-year-old population” (p. 5). Factoring in the rising population rates of Hispanics in America, this data is troublesome. As their population grows, much too large a portion of it is dropping out of schools. This is not trending well to say the least, and though major strides are being made, again, especially in terms of Hispanic women in higher education institutions, the overall data needs to begin to reverse itself or slow dramatically. Still, Pinto does a nice job of describing the heartening trends of Hispanic women in education. Pinto (1995) writes, “Latinas accounted for much of the increase in doctorates conferred to Hispanics. In 1993 alone, the number of doctoral degrees received by Hispanic women jumped 12 percent compared to 2.9 percent for Hispanic men. Although Hispanic men continued to earn slightly more doctorates between 1983 and 1993, the number of doctoral degrees awarded to Hispanic women increased at a faster rate than that of Hispanic men” (p. 10). The implications of this study need to be examined further. To discover the reasoning between the positive inroads of Hispanic women in education and apply it to all Hispanic students would be a great start. In terms of these numbers, there must be something useful that can be gleaned from the positive data sets. I’d like to think that it’s not gender specific and that something universal can found, upon analysis of the data, which can then be turned around to help the whole of the burgeoning Hispanic population.


This was not a hard article to follow though it was not organized with any sort of guiding headings. It read more like a block of text, but it was organized using paragraphs to convey that ideas were shifting or evolving. Still, the author was definitive in her writing, especially at the onset of the piece. Her sentences were definitive and non-esoteric and related directly to the data regarding college enrollment gains of Hispanic students along with the data on high school drop-out rates amongst Hispanics as well.

Contribution to Field

This article is important to my overall research, and it contributes to this field of study because it elucidates data, and it finds experts in their fields to analyze and support the data. The trends the author discusses are important. The growth of female Hispanic students as college graduates and as college professors is a trend to keep an eye on. Pinto (1995) writes, “Interestingly, Hispanic women made the most gains; the number of bachelor’s degrees they earned from 1981 to 1992 more than doubled, and the number of women earning first-professional degrees nearly tripled” (9). I would like to point out, though, that this article is from 1995. Because of this, there is so much more data to look at. One reason I chose this article, though, is that I can use it to show growth from some of the more recent college graduation rates of the last few years. Also, Pinto does provide solid reasoning for the trends in education which were valid in 1995 and are still valid today.    

Literature Review

Pinto’s use of literature supports her overall article and her data analysis.  She cites reports from the American Council on Education and uses quotations from the council’s director of minorities, Henry Garza.  I think both of those in concert strengthen any and all arguments that she makes.  I do feel like the numbers she presents speak for themselves but to then add in a council director as an interrupter of the results is even better.  Pinto (1995) quotes Garza here: “The study captures the status of Latinos in education,” Hector Garza, director of ACE’s Office of Minorities in Higher Education, says of the results of his organization’s 13th Annual Status Report on Minorities in Higher Education. “It gives us a measure from which to judge our success rate. Latinos continue to make progress but still have a long way to go to reach parity and the education goals for our community” (p. 2).  I’m happy, again, to have found this report, not because it features the most up-to-date data but because it will serve as a baseline in terms of showing progress or a regression juxtaposed next to more recent reports.  Pinto also cites the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Bureau of Census Current Population Reports, and the National Center for Education Statistics.  Additionally, Pinto cites Ricardo Martinez of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.  Pinto (1995) quotes Martinez here: “We are deeply concerned about the pre-collegiate drop-out rates” (p. 2).  I also think using college success rate data compared to high school drop-out rates provided me an interesting contrast and gave me a clear picture of the status of Hispanic education during this time period. Congress are not helping us in this regard.” A major factor in the drop-out problem seems to be the language barrier. This is something second-language learners will perpetually have to deal with; however, being cognizant of this fact has helped educators develop early intervention strategies to better serve these types of learners.

Data Collection

In terms of data collection, Pinto utilizes the aforementioned reports, but she does not only use the data exclusively from 1995.  Pinto cites report data from as far back as ten years prior.  She discusses data trends from this time period and covers this time period in depth.  Also, with her data collection she uses authorities in the field to comment on the data.  I feel that this only buttresses the arguments that she makes.  It would be one thing if she takes a data set and comments on it herself, but when she cites ACE data and then supports it with an ACE director, her arguments are much more effective.


Pinto’s analysis in her article takes key data points found in these studies and make them accessible to the laymen.  She also does a really nice job of sub-dividing the trends found in this report.  For instance, Pinto (1995) writes this regarding the types of advanced degrees earned by Hispanic students, “The most popular category was education, where Hispanics earned 211 doctorates in 1993, followed closely by the social sciences, with 182 degrees awarded” (p. 10).  This is an important trend to note, and it’s one that I’ll follow up on when I look at some of the more recent reports on college degrees earned by Hispanic students.  She did go on to write that engineering was least popular of all advanced degrees (Pinto, p. 10), and I’d like to see if this trend has continued on to this day.  I wonder if something was enacted to support Hispanics in their pursuit of degrees more related to math and sciences because of the results of these studies, and I’d like to see if this measure was successful.

Since this article was written in the nineties, I’d like to see the results of increased doctoral degrees amongst Hispanics.  I wonder if Hispanic educators twenty years ago produced another generation of Hispanic students pursuing degrees in education, or did their influence produce the scientists and engineers of this generation?

Theoretical Framework/Lens

Pinto’s roles in her article are myriad. She’s a reporter, a researcher, a data collector, and a cheerleader. She’s an advocate and a critic. She’s a well-wisher and a chider. I feel emotion in her data analysis; I feel pride, and I feel like she’s disappointed. Mostly, I feel like Pinto is someone who cares about the Hispanic population and foresees a bright future for Hispanic students.

Findings & Conclusions

Ultimately, as previously mentioned, Pinto’s conclusions center around foreseeing constant growth for young Hispanic learners. Still, she sees a need for more intervention to better serve Hispanic students. Here, Pinto (1995) quotes Garza once again, “”We need a national plan,” Garza says. “For the Latino community as a whole, we have made progress in college enrollment and graduation rates, but we continue to have a problem with the drop-out rate and in K-12” (p. 3). Including this quotation amongst the data shows that Pinto has concluded that there is much work to do with regards to this issue. Pinto has found two sets of data with regards to Hispanic college students: advanced degrees are on the rise, especially with Hispanic females, but drop-out rates are far too high for Hispanic students attending high school. To use Garza’s quote shows that Pinto acknowledges of the success of rising college graduation rates but knows that there are many more goals still to be accomplished.


How do they do it?

I’ve always been intrigued when hearing about Carl Hayden High School’s robotics team. I know nothing definitive about them, and I feel like I haven’t heard about them for a few years, but if I’m remembering it correctly, this high school from the west side of Phoenix competed with and won national robotics competitions against colleges like MIT.


At the time, I could not understand how this small high school could compete with some of our nation’s most prestigious universities. Learning about communities of practice has made it clear how this happened. My assumption now is that a culture was fostered, started by strong leadership and kept going by team members who cared about the individual members of the team but cared also for the community as a whole and most likely fought hard to keep that culture going after they graduated.

I saw that too in my high school, Brophy, with one of our recent grads. A few years ago, a member of our robotics team set out to bring robotics down to the grammar school level. Our wonderful student Gabe started a team with our adjacent middle school Loyola Academy. Loyola Academy is a grades 6-8 school that only students who qualify for free tuition can attend. Brophy is an expensive school that many wealthy parents send their sons to, but we also have ample scholarship students who enrich our campus, attending Brophy for free because of scholarship donations. Loyola Academy, though very rigorous in curriculum, has none of the affluent-type students you’d find at Brophy – Loyola students predominantly come from south Phoenix and many live in Boys Hope, an organization that helps children without parents find a family structure.

brophy robo

Well, our student Gabe started this robotics team at Loyola. Many of the members of the Brophy robotics team were perturbed because he left our team to do so. They were also disappointed because the middle schoolers began to beat the high schoolers in completions. And, by the way, Gabe has since gone on to the aforementioned MIT to study both medicine and robotics.

I will add that the Loyola team hasn’t been the same without came and this gets me back to our readings on communities of practice, especially the Jordan and McDaniel piece on robotics specifically, teams or communities need a strong group of peers to fall back and to strengthen the community when needed. Jordan and McDaniel (2014) wrote, “Learning to participate in engineering practices is one context in which uncertainty is particularly relevant. Engineering is an enterprise in which dealing with uncertainty is a central figure” (p. 4). This is why I see the role of a strong peer group so important to groups like these. I also see the importance of one transcendent peer who is able by personality or sheer force of will to keep the group together. Jordan and McDaniel studied how groups of your peers deal with uncertainty. I see my former student Gabe in this study. Jordan and McDaniel set out to study how peers deal with uncertainty in engineering and robotics. The authors detailed the disparate backgrounds of the students in this robotics group and went to discuss the group’s leader. Jordan and McDaniel (2014) wrote, “The teacher of this class, Ms. Billings, had more than 20 years of classroom experience and was recognized on her campus and across the district for her expertise in science and technology instruction” (p. 8). My assumption is that if you look behind the veil of the Carl Hayden High School robotics program, you’ll find a ‘Ms. Billings.” Certainly, in my story, Gabe served that role as well, and I believe that successful groups like these – robotics or any other from band groups or sports teams – will have someone to guide the community of practice through times and situations of uncertainty.


Jordan, Michelle E., and McDaniel Jr., Reuben R. (2014). Managing uncertainty during    collaborative problem solving in elementary school teams: the role of peer influence in       robotics engineering activity. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 00, 1-47.




Some hope for the future – Hispanic students and college


Mellander, G. A. (2004, May 03). Targeting higher education: Hispanic students and college –

by the numbers. The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education, 14, 9. Retrieved from            http://search.proquest.com/docview/219261871?accountid=41434

Mellander’s (2004) article “Targeting Higher Education; Hispanic Students and College – By the Numbers” goes into depth regarding the data of Hispanic students in institutions of higher learning, comparing graduation rates of Hispanics, Whites, and African-Americans attaining associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degrees. Further, the article analyzes the types of degrees that Hispanics attain which predominately fall into the categories of education and public administration (Mellander, 2004, p. 1).

This article also mentions the need for better service of Hispanic students in higher education institutions. Mellander makes this conclusion through data, comparing the rising population percentage rate of Hispanic students versus their college graduation rates. The author also uses additional data-supported evidence from specific studies. For example, Mellander (2004) writes, “Hispanics as a group appreciate education. In 1999, 41 percent of Hispanics 17 years and older participated actively in adult education. That seems like a large percentage, but even there, Hispanics lag behind other racial/ethnic cohorts. For instance, among employed Hispanics in this age group, the percentage was 44 percent; for Whites-53 percent” (Mellander, p. 4). The positive implications of this study are tempered by the comparison.   Still, the comparison may be unnecessary at this point in education. Rather, the positives might instead be accentuated.

The strengths of this article center around the illumination of trends in graduation rates with regards to the rise in population rates of Hispanics. Also, the article does a nice job in describing the types of degrees Hispanics do attain when they graduate from college. This leads me to implications of this text. As stated, when Hispanics attain higher education degrees, the degrees themselves are, mostly, in education. This is both important and disconcerting. Firstly, this may be an oversimplification, but maybe a generation of Hispanics needs to become successful grade school and high school teacher and college professors who in turn inspire subsequent generations to become doctors, lawyers, and engineers. Again, that may be an oversimplification of a current problem that needs to be addressed today. Further programs need to become more prevalent that facilitate Hispanics to graduate with degrees other than education and public administration.


This article is well-organized with informative and easy to follow headings, leading me to find exactly what I was looking for quickly. For instance, its first sub-heading College Completion Rates elucidates that current trends in education indicate that Hispanics do attain college degrees at a lower rate than other races and ethnicities.

Contribution to Field

After doing some research on the author, I found that Gustavo Mellander writes multiple articles under the title of “Targeting Higher Education.” This particular one centers around the numbers of Hispanic students who graduate from college compared with other races and ethnicities. Also in this series, for example, are:

  • College presidents: minorities and women
  • 2013 – A year to be remembered
  • Hispanic trends

It’s led me to clearly see that with this article and all the others, Gustavo Mellander is someone who I’ll be reading a lot throughout my research. The prodigious Mellander has served as the dean or president of multiple universities and colleges in addition to his writing contributions.

Literature Review

I appreciated Mellander’s use of NCES (National Center for Educational Statistics) data. When reflecting upon a writer’s use of sources to support his or her claim, hard data to me always trumps anecdotal information. I probably should amend that, however. I learned from last week’s class that data is one thing, but the usage of multiple modes or types of data is just as or even more important. At the same time, Mellander’s article does not use additional sources to support his data. Quite simply, this piece, though effective, clear, and informative, is solely a summation of NCES reports. I do think the interpreter is important or even vital in all of this. Mellander may, given his experience in the field, pick out nuggets of salient data that other researchers and writers would not.

Data Collection

Another reason Mellander’s data hold gravitas and validity is that the statistics he’s using go back to the 1970s. It’s not as if he’s parlaying five-year trends on this topic. The author takes a long-view here, which allows the reader to gain a clear picture of what is going on with regards to the graduation rates of Hispanic students.


Though Hispanic college graduation rates lag when compared to other races and ethnicities, this must and will change. I think this will be due to the sheer volume of the Hispanic population. Honestly, I think this population growth will create positive reverberations throughout entities like universities but also even larger institutions like politics and our state government. I hope that in Arizona, for instance, the population will increase so much that certain politicians who do not support education will be swept out of the higher offices in our state. State universities will have to find ways to more fully support the Hispanic student population or there will be negative societal consequences. This falls, as well, on high school teachers like me, and I take this challenge seriously. The positive inevitability of the Hispanic population boom just might be the great educational opportunity in our state in the next 20-50 years.

Theoretical Framework/Lens

Through his data analysis and presentation of his findings, I notice that Mellander presents this information almost as an advocate or coach of Hispanic college students. His data analysis, in a strange way, makes me think of that oft-mythologizes, Knute Rockne “Win one for the gipper” quote. Yes, Mellander present NCES data in a highly professional manner, but he also does so, in my mind, with a rooting interest.

Findings & Conclusions

The author of this article is not happy or content with the data he’s researched. He uses the word “disproportionally” an awful lot. Still, the author is not without hope. It seems each time he uses a word with a negative connotation to describe data trends, he consistently follows it up with a positive spin on additional data. At the conclusion of his piece, Mellander (2004) relates, “Finally, it is a matter of not being either foolishly Pollyannaish or horribly depressed. It is good to remember that ‘eternal vigilance’ is not only necessary for freedom but essential for progress as well” (p. 9). I appreciate Mellander calling for “eternal vigilance” to close his piece. No matter the numbers positive or negative, no matter where the numbers are trending, Hispanic students, and teachers like myself, must consistently look to continue to build upon prior successes.

And the Oscar goes to…

My school provides its students with iPads upon their first day of school. The computers are prevalent throughout all of their classes. Books are read using iBooks. Homework and tests are done online. We even utilize Blackboard, which is strangely ironic for me because as I take these electives this summer and as I take this course as well, you’d like I’d have a better grip on all the online content. That’s probably a whole different post, however.

At my school, one of the outcomes of our students having iPads is that teachers assign SO MANY movie projects. I’m guilt of this as well, but guilty is probably the wrong word because I do see value in the projects I assign. That having been said, other teachers find value in their projects as well, and by the time a young man graduates from Brophy, it’s almost like he should be up for an Oscar or something with all the movies he’s made.


Baustita et al (2013) wrote about the value in this as well in “Participatory action research and city youth: methodology insights from the council of youth research.” I found this article heartening because it validated much of what I believe in terms of the reflective projects or the PowerPoints presentations that are referenced. Bautista et al (2013) wrote, “Documentary filmmaking allows students to use multimodal and multivocal elements to an even greater degree than with the PowerPoint presentations. The video format provides a space to meld both visual and auditory stimuli while offering a rich platform for the incorporation of a stakeholder voice” (p. 17). I see value in teaching my students paragraph writing and sentence structure, but I love my reflective movie projects. Students cannot leave my class without reflecting upon their lives, their gifts, what makes them special, and how lucky they are. I do realize that this reflection makes my students consistently aware of self when sometimes they don’t want to be. My students do reflect on race in my classroom, but it’s never my attempt to force my students into something they are not comfortable with. Dunbar (2008) wrote about this in “Critical race theory and indigenous methodologies.” He wrote, “Issues of race have been the backdrop in all my lived experiences. That includes occasions when I was acutely aware that my race was an issue and instances when it was no so obvious” (p. 89). The numbers are still most at Brophy in terms of the amount of White students, but Hispanic student enrollment climbs every year. My White students, I’m guessing, do not live their lives considering their whiteness on a daily basis. From Dunbar, I see that my Hispanic students (and my students of other races and ethnicities) probably do. I think that this is both a shame and a privilege for these students – most challenges in life can be turned positive if you try. Yes, my Hispanic students deal with issues of race as a “backdrop” to their lives each and every day at predominately White Brophy, but I think that can be looked upon as a really good thing. I hope that I can foster a pride in this fact in my classroom, especially with some of my reflective projects. I also hope that the tone I set in my classroom allows my Hispanic students to feel valued and that they feel I value their race and their culture. It’s never been my desire to put students on the spot with regards to race, but this brings me back to Howard. I do not want to bury race in my classroom culture. I’d like to confront it and ultimately to celebrate it.


Bautista, Mark A., Bertrand, Melanie, Morrell, Ernest, Scorza, D’Artagnan, Matthews, Corey.

(2013). Participatory action research and city youth: methodology insights from the council of youth research. Teachers College Record, 115, 1-23.

Dunbar, Christopher Jr. (2008). Critical race theory and indigenous methodologies. Handbook    of Critical and Indigenous Methodologies. Los Angeles: Sage, 85-99.

Hispanic students and higher ed – a followable path reveals itself


Hall, R. E., & Rowan, G. T. (2001). Hispanic-American males in higher education: A

descriptive/qualitative analysis. Education, 121(3), 565-574. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/196438890?accountid=41434


Hall and Rowan’s (2001) article “Hispanic-American Males in Higher Education: A Descriptive/Qualitative Analysis” describes the initial oppression that Hispanic-American encounter with regards to education in America. Some of these forms of oppression include: unemployment, imprisonment, and poverty (Hall and Rowan, 2001, p. 565). Due to this, Hall and Rowan (2001) call for this in their article, “In an effort to reverse dropout rates programs and policies must accommodate Hispanic-American males who are less academically prepared but who have the potential for success in higher education” (p. 565). The authors describe trends in the education of Hispanic students in detail. Hall and Rowan use data to illuminate graduation rates of Hispanics versus non-Hispanics, but also the authors sub-divide and compare different portions of students deemed Hispanic like Puerto Ricans versus Mexican-Americans. Ultimately, the authors put the onus onto Higher Education in general as not doing enough to support Hispanic-American students. Talented Hispanic-American students should not be dropping out of college, and the policy process should be further counter-balanced towards enabling Hispanic-American students to graduate.

Hall and Rowan’s (2001) article, as mentioned, focuses on a myriad of different data sets when describing the problems related to Hispanics in high education. The authors also offer philosophic arguments as reasons to support change: “Consummate societies require human perfection which is beyond the possibilities of human endeavor and thus is an ideal. As a viable alternative, higher education can maximize the benefits of human development by designing/redesigning policies to accommodate Hispanic-American males” (p. 573). This strongly-worded article has numerous implications for the issues of retaining intelligent and talented Hispanic students in higher education institutions. The greatest being its focus on higher ed institutions’ role in all of this. No longer should drop-out rates be looked at solely as failures of the young Hispanic individual. There is more to it – college and universities must realize their role in all of this and redouble their efforts to support their Hispanic learners.


This report was clearly organized and easy to follow. The authors stated the problem at the onset of the text and worked from there.

Contribution to Field

This article contributed to the field as it first offered a comprehensive review of literature on the predecessors in the field of study. The authors created, in their words, a non-exhaustive analysis of focused-grouped questions given to groups of Hispanic college students. The authors utilized these groups for collection of their data, using “eight to twelve Hispanic American male college students and lasted 60 to 90 minutes” (Hall and Rowan, 2001, p. 570).

Literature Review

This article’s strength just might be its Literature Review. As mentioned, it builds nicely on what came previously, interweaving the research and analysis of some of the older texts and articles that exist on this subject. Because of this, it serves as a foundational piece and starting point from which to proceed when looking at Hispanic students in higher education.

Data Collection

The methods for data collection and the data itself are not what make this article interesting. The data is taken from surveys given to Hispanic students on college campuses. It asks the students to define and expound upon issues that they’ve faced in their time at college. For instance, one survey question is: “3 What problems did/do you have enrolling and staying in school?” (Hall and Rowan, 2001, p. 571). Another example of a survey question is: “5 What ideas do you have for successfully educating Hispanic-American males?” (Hall and Rowan, 2001, p. 571). These questions – purposely open-ended – might be a challenge for young Hispanic students in the sense that asking questions like this to students pursuing an undergrad degree, young men in their early twenties, would not allow for the depth of reflection as, for instance, a student seeking a Masters or Doctoral degree.


To me, this is where this process became interesting in this article. The data collectors organized keywords that were repeated in these surveys and interviews. It almost felt as if they were collecting and organizing keywords as a Wordle does, but it was deeper than that. It, again, was interesting to me when the authors described the time-consuming process which now can be done in seconds using some of the algorithm software that is out there today for data organization. Still, the gesture was noble (not to mention it seemed novel for its time), and its results continue to be useful and valid in their field of study. The authors did utilize a computer program which they did mention, but this was technology circa 2001, not what is used today. Ultimately, the data was organized alphabetically and a color-coded system was used as well.

Theoretical Framework/Lens

I saw the hermeneutic for this article as one of outsiders looking in as a means of gaining knowledge. This knowledge, once illuminated, could potentially aid the next group of Hispanic scholars seeking higher education. I see this as a data collection for the purpose of gaining wisdom, a wisdom that could be passed down – almost as if the authors sought to create a document of “things I wish I knew before I started college” for Hispanic students. They went about this in innovative ways. Instead of creating a detailed list of student responses, the authors accumulated survey data and took it to original and new places.

Findings & Conclusions

The authors findings were not dismaying at all, but I noticed the types of Hispanic students who succeed in college, as listed in this article, are ones who are highly motivated and self-starters who transcended their peer groups. These students did not seem to be part of the norm or involved in groups of students who all went on to college. They were the exceptions, not the rules. And so, in one sense, not much can be gleaned from the findings – “special students will do special things” comes to mind. But that’s not the success of this article. We know now that, in spite of great challenges, special Hispanic students do make it to college, and they do find success. How does one become special? Well, that’s the challenge, but at least now a template or precedent has been set which those who seek this path and come after can follow.

Some semi-random thoughts on randomization

Paufler and Amrein-Beardsley’s 2013 article “The random assignment of students into elementary classrooms: Implications for value-added analyses and interpretations” analyzed the impact of the randomization and non-randomization of assignments of students in Arizona classrooms. This response will attempt to highlight and describe insight found in the article.

First off, I’d like to start with a thought on randomization of students in classrooms. This premise of randomized classroom groupings begins with the conscious pairing of students by their ages. In my mind, a truly randomized classroom in, for instance, a K-8 school would feature six-year olds and their teenage counterparts in the same classroom. So, the students studied for this would be randomly grouped once they are divided in grade levels based on their age. Paufler and Amrein-Beardsley (2013) wrote this regarding randomization, “The purpose of random assignment is to make the probability of the occurrence of any observable differences among treatment groups (e.g., treatment or no treatment) equal at the outset of any experiment or study” (p. 3). This type of equality is important when the design is to study the impact of randomization. In terms of probability, all classrooms would have equal chances of having a wide-variety of students within them, running the gamut from students with disabilities to gifted learners. Studied over time in aggregate, randomization would precipitate and further comparable numbers of all types of students. Paufler and Amrein-Beardsley (2013) addressed issues regarding thoughts of randomization in classroom prior to and post standardized tests, “Whether students have been randomly assigned to schools and classrooms has not mattered much in the past because until recently, teachers were not typically held accountable for the test scores their students attained (i.e., once per year on traditional ‘‘snapshot’’ standardized tests)” (p. 8). Now that we are in the era of standardized tests, it matters the types of students that teachers receive; it matters as well the means that teachers receive their students. It’s one thing if each teacher receives an equal number of special education students in his or her classroom – this may just be a product of the population. It’s a completely different issue if one teacher receives ALL the special education students in his or her classroom because he or she is “good” with them and then is assessed with the same metrics of standardized tests that his or her colleagues are per grade level. I can see these non-randomized groupings happening all the time pre standardized tests. Something like: Shelly takes all the autistic students because she’s so patient with them, or Sandra takes all the gifted students because she knows how to challenge them. I can foresee scenarios where hypothetical teachers like Shelly and Sandra enjoy being these people on campus but not when they now are assessed as teachers for something like a pay bonus against their colleagues who do not have these special needs students in their classes. With a raise on the line, Shelly and Sandra may no longer request students they enjoy teaching. They may mandate a randomized classroom selection model.

Analyzing scenarios such as the aforementioned through the lens of impact, one can see how standardized tests greatly affect a teacher’s view of his or her class roster and how it is selected. Paufler and Amrein-Beardsley (2013) went on to discuss student growth scores and their linkage to teachers, “While it is certainly reasonable to ask to what extent bias occurs given varying student placement practices, in the state of Arizona, students’ growth scores are still not linked to teachers’ records to permit teacher-level value-added analyses for such a purpose” (p. 12). It seems as if the threat (and threat is too strong of a word) of test scores continually on the horizon might make it impossible to focus upon or assess a purely randomized classroom structure. The stakes might just be too high for principals not to front load their perceived stronger teachers with students deemed troublesome. All of this having been said, the attempt is both noble and interesting. Whether or not classrooms are truly randomized is outside the scope of the study. The initial premise was to study randomized classrooms against non-randomized classrooms. Non-randomization has been going on for years. Teachers, administrators, and parents have “cherry-picked” classrooms based upon pre-conceived notions of students and teachers. This is less and less equitable as standardized tests become more prevalent.

Paufler, N.A. & Amrein-Beardsley, A. (2013). The random assignment of students into elementary classrooms: Implications for value-added analyses and interpretations. American Education Research Journal, 51(2), 328-362.