Escaleras hacia el exito/Ladders to success : understanding how Latino immigrant parents describe, access, and perceive their role regarding college readiness
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Latino immigrant youth represent twenty-five percent of the nation’s children; yet remain disproportionately represented in degree attainment. A disconnect between college entrance and completion can be attributed to college readiness gaps between Latino students and Latino parents’ knowledge of college readiness. Literature on Latino parental involvement and immigrant acculturation and adaptation strategies provides a basis for how immigrant parents understand social environments, such as education. However, existing research does not identify how Latino immigrant parents from distinct immigrant generational groups understand college readiness. This study employed a qualitative method of inquiry and a phenomenological approach to determine Latino immigrant parents’ understanding of college readiness. The study included twenty participants (N=20) who identified as first or second-generation Latino immigrant parents of 8th or 9th grade students in a comprehensive middle/high school. Data collection methods included semi-structured interviews, document analysis and observations. The research study was guided by three primary inquiries: 1) How do Latino immigrant parents of 8th and/or 9th grade students in a comprehensive middle/high school describe college readiness 2) How do Latino immigrant parents of 8th and/or 9th grade students in a comprehensive middle/high school access college readiness information? 3) What do Latino immigrant parents of 8th and/or 9th grade students in a comprehensive middle/high school perceive to be their role in promoting college readiness opportunities? Findings revealed that although college readiness is multifaceted, participants provided a nuanced understanding of college readiness. Participants described college readiness as: life readiness, academic readiness, career readiness, preparatory programs, and financial readiness. Participants collected college preparatory information by: attending parent meetings, participating in college and career fairs, visiting school personnel, consulting school administrators, tapping informal networks, and leveraging technology. Parents perceived active roles in promoting college readiness as co-pilotos (co-pilots), porristas (pep-squad), pioneros (pathfinders), and socios silenciosos (silent partners). This study agreed with previous research that recognized ways that parents contribute to their children's college preparation. However, the research findings also contribute to limited research regarding parents’ understanding of college readiness and the less traditional roles parents play in advancing college readiness.