Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor's Name

Dr. Hilary Landorf

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Dr. Mido Chang

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Dr. Elizabeth Cramer

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Dr. Sarah Mathews

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Educational inequalities, educational disparities, academic achievement gap, Belize education, Caribbean education, ethnicity and academic performance, language and academic performance, postcolonialism and education, indigenous academic performance

Date of Defense



The idea that education is a fundamental human right is garnering increased support from the international community. Yet, there are children throughout the world who face impediments to access quality education, while others face no such hardships; this concept is described as “educational inequality” or “educational disparity.”

In Belize – a sparsely populated, English-speaking Caribbean country located in Central America – there have been reports of disparities in educational attainment along gender and ethnic lines; however, there has been little research focused on potential gaps in academic achievement, especially at the secondary level. The purpose of the present study was to investigate whether there are significant educational disparities in relation to academic performance in secondary schools across Belize. More specifically, the study sought to determine whether student-level sociocultural factors—namely gender, ethnicity, language, location of residence, and commute time to school — significantly impact academic performance as measured by students’ end-of-year English/language arts grade, end-of-year mathematics grade, and cumulative grade point average (GPA).

Overall, study results revealed that, among the study population, there were statistically significant disparities in academic achievement associated with gender, ethnicity, and first/native language. However, location of residence (urban or rural) and commute time did not significantly influence overall academic achievement or math achievement, in but had small effects on English achievement. Also, there were no intersectional (interaction) effects between ethnicity and gender, but there were intersectional effects between language and high school of attendance.

Using a postcolonial framework analysis, desired implications of the findings on praxis include: an evaluation of patriarchal effects on curriculum and gender roles in the classroom; a meaningful infusion of Belizean curricula and/or pedagogic approaches with localized knowledge and practices; the addition of bilingual, multilingual, and ESL programs at the secondary level; and, the development of culturally-relevant learning metrics using more holistic, contextualized measures of learning.





Rights Statement

Rights Statement

In Copyright. URI:
This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).