Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)


Global and Sociocultural Studies

First Advisor's Name

Betty Hearn Morrow

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Rosa Castro Feinberg

Third Advisor's Name

Alex Stepick

Date of Defense



Most studies of language minority students' performance focus on students' characteristics. This study uses qualitative methodology to examine instead how educational policies and practices affect the tracking of language minority students who are classified as limited English proficient (LEP). The placement of LEP students in core courses (English, Math, Social Studies, and Science) is seen as resulting from the interaction between school context and student characteristics. The school context includes factors such as equity policy requirements, overcrowding, attitudes regarding immigrants' academic potential, tracking, and testing practices. Interaction among these factors frequently leads to placement in lower track courses. It was found that the absence of formal tracks could be misleading to immigrant students, particularly those with high aspirations who do not understand the implications of the informal tracking system. Findings are discussed in relation to current theoretical explanations for minority student performance.





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