Voices of Marginalized Youth: An Exploration of Mathematical Learning, Limited School Choice, and High Mobility
AdvisorWood, Marcy B.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractSchool choice is touted to alleviate inequities in students' schooling experiences. It is seen as a way out of under-performing neighborhood schools. However, it can be challenging for marginalized students to leave their neighborhood school and transfer into a school of their choice. The reason for this challenge is the inequitable opportunities surrounding school choice, such as elite charter schools located outside of city centers and credit-recovery schools targeting marginalized youth (Garcia, 2008). As marginalized students try to navigate the school choice landscape, they may engage in sequences of transfers increasing the chance that they will ultimately drop out. Since most school choice research explores student experiences using quantitative research, general school mobility patterns and outcomes are understood. What is not well established is the individual student's more nuanced experiences engaging in school choice, the choices they make, and the resulting outcome, particularly for marginalized youth. Additionally, little research has explored the impact of transferring on students' mathematical learning. This dissertation examined how highly mobile, marginalized youth described their experiences transferring schools and learning mathematics. This study used an analytic framework that foregrounded students' empowerment, their ability to achieve their goals. The framework focuses on agency and opportunity structures as key components of empowerment. This framework was used to examine three highly mobile, marginalized youths' experiences engaging in school choice and learning mathematics. This analysis of empowerment highlighted the challenging opportunity structures these youth faced when engaging in school choice and the assets they utilized in making decisions. It also identified important opportunity structures that supported, or hindered, these students' mathematical learning. Finally, the resulting empowerment (both mathematical and school choice empowerment) that these students' experienced was examined. The findings demonstrate the complexity of engaging in school choice and reveal both challenges and successes engaging in school choice and mathematical learning. The school choice findings indicate that students may be falsely empowered when engaging in school choice, they may engage in new chance transfers offering them a new start, and/or they may increase their mobility by "trying on schools" for a good fit. The mathematical findings suggest that students may experience mathematical learning empowerment and/or earning empowerment, and that recognizing this difference is important; develop a procedural understanding of mathematics that may create further challenges as highly mobile youth transfer schools; and experience productive opportunity structures that may be essential in supporting students' mathematical empowerment. The findings suggest important implications for highly mobile marginalized youths' mathematical achievement, school choice policy, and further research. Specifically, the findings suggest the importance of using a framework that examines opportunity structures, assets, and empowerment to better understand and support students' engagement in school choice.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Teaching & Teacher Education