ERIC Number: EJ746295
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006
Reference Count: 28
AP as an Intervention for Middle School Hispanic Students
Kettler, Todd; Shiu, Alexandra; Johnsen, Susan K.
Gifted Child Today, v29 n1 p39-46 Win 2006
This article focuses on two education-related factors that appear to contribute to the schooling aspirations and self-efficacy of Hispanic youth: (1) sense of belonging at school; and (2) composition of the student's peer group. In particular, middle school students whose home language was Spanish were given an opportunity to participate in the Advanced Placement (AP) Spanish Language program. By placing these students in a program that honors their native language as an advanced academic skill rather than an academic risk factor, the authors hypothesized that Spanish-speaking eighth-grade students would: (1) earn qualifying scores on the AP Spanish exam; and (2) increase their sense of belonging at school, self-efficacy, and academic aspirations. Findings support both hypotheses. The study was conducted at Waco Independent School District, in Waco, TX, which offers AP Spanish Language to Hispanic students in eighth grade. To examine the effectiveness of the AP Spanish project, the authors looked at student performance on the AP exams and studied the composition of the intervention group, students' sense of belonging at school, students' academic aspirations, and students' self-efficacy. The evaluation of student success on the AP exam included three years of data collected since the program's inception in the fall of 2002. In three years of program implementation, 117 students participated in the AP Spanish Language course and took the corresponding AP exam in the eighth grade. Of those 117 students, 92 (79%) of them earned qualifying scores of 3, 4, or 5 on the AP exam. All of those students earned four high school credits as a result of their exam scores. The AP group was compared with two other groups of students who were not enrolled in the AP class, one composed of Hispanic students who spoke Spanish (HS) as their first language, the other composed of Hispanic students who spoke English as the first language (HE). Randomly selecting eighth-grade classes from four participating middle schools completed a survey adapted from the National Center for Education Statistics Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002 Student Questionnaire measuring the composition of their peer group, their sense of belonging at school, self-efficacy, and their academic aspirations. Supporting the first hypothesis, statistically significant differences were found between the AP group and the HS and HE groups who did not enroll in the AP class. Eighth-grade Spanish-speaking students in the program significantly outperformed high school students in the same district on the AP Spanish Language exam with more Spanish-speaking students earning qualifying scores than high school Spanish students in the school district. Supporting the second hypothesis, it was found that an AP program honoring the students' home-language builds students' sense of self-confidence, academic aspirations, and sense of belonging in school. The authors emphasize the importance of campus administrative support in creating a culture that values Spanish language skills as an advanced academic indicator rather than a risk factor.
Descriptors: Hispanic American Students, Middle School Students, Intervention, Academic Aspiration, Self Efficacy, Spanish, Grade 8, Program Effectiveness, Advanced Placement, Comparative Analysis, English, Peer Influence, Native Speakers, Culturally Relevant Education
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Grade 8; Middle Schools
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Texas