College of Education Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Spring 6-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Curriculum & Instruction

First Advisor

Dr. Roxanne Owens

Second Advisor

Dr. John Taccarino

Third Advisor

Fr. Patrick McDevitt

Abstract

A growing body of research indicates that Latino students continue to struggle academically presenting educators and school leaders with serious concerns about a cultural achievement gap. Guided by the work of Lee & Loeb, (2000); Lee & Freidkin, (2007) and Stevens, (2008) who have examined small personalized learning communities, this paper examines the concept of personalismo as a conduit for establishing a platform that may help narrow the achievement gap within the Latino population in the public school system. Through a series of T-Tests, conducted in two small public schools with varying levels of personalismo, within a Chicago Public School Latino community this study will examine whether the construct of personalismo has a significant effect on the academic achievement of Latino students. Grounded in national research findings conducted across various urban populations about small learning communities, this study proposes that small learning communities promote interpersonal closeness and connectedness between students and educators, particularly for Latino students, that yield improved academic outcomes. The results should help school leaders, teachers and policy makers understand why Latino students’ academic achievement improves when enrolled in small, personalized environments. The findings suggest that training professionals on the benefits of personalismo in large urban schools will help narrow the achievement gap across the nation.