All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Loucrecia Collins

Advisory Committee Members

Gary Peters

Margaret Rice

Boyd Rogan

Foster Watkins

Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2012

Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Education

Abstract

Alabama has experienced a marked increase in the number of Hispanic students who have enrolled in its public schools. The Alabama State Department of Education's website shows that during the 2000-2001 school year, there were 9,541 Hispanic students enrolled in Alabama public schools in kindergarten through twelfth grades. By the 2010-2011 school year, that number had expanded to 33,260 Hispanic students enrolled in Alabama public schools. This increase reflects a 349 percent increase over a nine-year period. A lack of knowledge of how to work with Hispanic students often leads to barriers in the full inclusion of Hispanic students and their families in the school setting. At the onset of these students' enrollment, there is often a lack of communication between the students and the school because of the Spanish/English language barrier. Schools in rural areas may find that these problems are compounded by a lack of resources. There is a paucity of studies that provide an overall view of how rural schools create environments that are inclusive of Hispanic students. This qualitative multiple study explored how three rural northeast Alabama public elementary schools created an environment inclusive of Hispanic students and supportive of their families. The participants from each site were the principal, three elementary teachers with experience in working with Hispanic students, and one certified support teacher such as an ELL (English Language Learner) teacher. Research was conducted through face-to-face interviews, walkthroughs, document reviews, and photographs of artifacts significant to the study. The data analysis followed guidelines presented by Stake (2006) and Creswell (2008) and was conducted through within-case analysis and cross-case analysis. Themes that emerged from the cases included (a) developing relationships; (b) communicating in Spanish; (c) accommodating instruction for Hispanic students; (d) integrating Hispanic culture in the school; (e) involving Hispanic students and families in school activities; and (f) creating an inclusive physical environment. Descriptions of ways that three rural northeast Alabama public elementary schools include Hispanic students were included in this study. It was the intent of the researcher to provide school administrators and educators with a better understanding of how to include Hispanic students in rural public school settings.

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