Date of Award

Winter 2-25-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Paul Naso

Second Advisor

Maria Serpa

Third Advisor

Nadene Stein


This qualitative study inquired about the perceptions of Spanish-speaking immigrant parents about their children's experiences in a Massachusetts elementary school, the expectations they have for their children's education, and their understanding of their role with regards to their children's education. The phenomenological design and analysis concentrated on parents' lived experience as they and their families interacted with the school. Thirty-eight parents of English learners participated in answering a questionnaire and ten were later interviewed. Findings reveal that parents of English learners face obstacles in understanding American schooling and often rely on information from others and comparisons with their own previous school experiences. Parents understood the importance of their children acquiring English as a factor in acculturation to the United States and desired that their children be bilingual. Parents wished to acculturate into United States schools and they sought different ways to connect with the school and school personnel. Connectedness was influenced by how well they felt they and their children were treated and understood. Finally, they possessed an understanding that their status in the school community as immigrants, language learners, and newcomers signaled to others that they are different. Implications of this study include the need for educational leaders and policy makers to recognize that traditional methods of registering families, communicating with parents, and involving parents are insufficient for this population. Instead, new methods need to be considered, created, and implemented to engage with parents of English learners. Moreover, educators need to understand that it is the responsibility of the schools to encourage agency and advocacy for all parents to have a voice and to be partners if social justice is to be attained.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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