Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Dr. Elinor L. Brown


The number of African-American students studying a foreign language has continually persisted to be low (National Center for Education Statistics, 2009), thus eliminating them from the benefits gained from the study of foreign language. This study explores the experiences of African-American students in a partial Spanish Immersion Program (SIP) in Central Kentucky from their parents’ perspectives. Data were collected via a survey and a focus group. Findings revealed that data gleaned from the focus group corroborated responses from the survey. Moreover, themes from content analysis of the qualitative data arose as to why parents chose to continue or discontinue their child(ren) in the SIP including varying levels of academic achievement, social integration in the program and the perceived lack of cultural responsiveness from school staff. The researcher’s initial intent was to use Tinto’s (1993) theory of student departure to discuss how his model could transfer to this K-12 partial immersion setting and show how parallels could be drawn. Results from data analysis led the researcher to develop her own Parent Perception Continuation Model (PPCM) as it was determined that in the K-12 partial immersion setting, it was not a question of student persistence, but rather the parents’ decision about student continuation. Subsequently, the PPCM discusses the process that parents use to make the decision as to whether their child(ren) will continue in the SIP once enrolled which includes a discussion about reasons for enrolling, completion goals, student program experiences, integration and outcomes. Findings from the study can be used by school districts and administration for planning and policy making when attempting to capitalize on effective academic and social practices that influence whether a student continues in a partial immersion program through his/her high school graduation. In addition, K-12 systems can also use these findings to address the concerns raised by the parents of African-American students who discontinued the program in an effort to increase program graduation rates among this demographic.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)