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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Educational Administration and Leadership

First Advisor

Antonio Serna

First Committee Member

Dennis Brennan

Second Committee Member

Louis Wildman

Third Committee Member

Harriett Arnold


In a world that is now a global village, enterprising individuals, especially from Third World countries, who make it to greener pastures do not leave their children behind. But with a long list of barriers to academic achievement associated with immigrant and minority students in American high schools, an understanding of the experiences and barriers to academic achievement of immigrant high school students from Uganda and other countries becomes inevitable if those students are to be helped by their school administrators, teachers, counselors, and parents to graduate from high school. This study utilized a qualitative approach from the perspective of Ogbu's cultural ecological theory about immigrant and minority students. The study took place in Southern California. Each of the ten Ugandan immigrant students (identified by pseudonyms) was interviewed for 30 to 45 minutes. The participants' responses to the 14 interview questions were voice-recorded, transcribed, interpreted, coded, and categorized into themes. Study findings suggested that: Ugandan immigrant students were not without obstacles in their American schools. Ugandan immigrant students struggled with adjusting to a new school system where they were asked to repeat grades. They endured negative peer evaluation, found communicating in English problematic, and were threatened by youth gangs. However, the perceived barriers to the academic achievement of Ugandan immigrant students did not prevent them from doing well in their schools in Southern California. The success of Ugandan immigrant students in spite of their perceived barriers to academic achievement in American schools was attributed to their life and school experiences in Uganda (prior to immigration) that prepared them to face barriers with resilience.





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