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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

Fred Muskal

First Committee Member

Dennis Brennan

Second Committee Member

Kellie Cain

Third Committee Member

Louis Wildman


It is imperative that school administrators find means to include Mexican immigrant students in high quality mathematics programs. Yet many questions remain regarding instructional design and policies to accelerate the learning of mathematics within this student population. This exploratory study examines challenges that Mexican immigrant students face in transitioning from mathematics instruction in their native country to mathematics in the United States. A qualitative research design was selected to examine interviews in two data sets: an existing data base of interview narratives of 158 Mexican immigrants conducted by pre-service elementary education students at California State University-Bakersfield; and a second data base of 19 educators from California's lower Central Valley. Qualitative analyses generated three core categories to help explain how Mexican and American instructional practices influenced immigrant students' ability to transition to learning mathematics in the United States. (a) In contrast to the United States, the study of mathematics in Mexico was closely associated with practical and job related purposes. (b) Differences of expectations for learning mathematics in the two countries affected Mexican students' ability to transition to learning mathematics in this country. Differences included mathematical content, instructional practices, pacing, promotion policies, and years of schooling. (c) When entering American schools, initial placement of immigrant students into mathematics coursework was based upon factors such as English language proficiency, or the need to satisfy standards or graduation requirements, rather than assessment of mathematics competency. As a result, highly proficient students were often unable to continue their study of advanced mathematics, while low performing students quickly became discouraged. Additional issues included the competency of bilingual aides to accurately translate advanced level mathematics, requirements that English Learners take high stakes English-only examinations for mathematics, and the ability of immigrant parents to assist their children in learning mathematics despite differences in mathematical algorithms and procedures. The study suggests a comprehensive success model to help school administrators coordinate mathematics reform efforts; address issues related to curriculum, instruction, and professional development; and involve community stakeholders in supporting mathematics reform.





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