Missing the (Student Achievement) Forest for All the (Political) Trees: Empiricism and the Mexican American Studies Controversy in Tucson

76 Scopus citations


The Arizona legislature passed HB 2281, which eliminated Tucson Unified School District’s (TUSD’s) Mexican American Studies (MAS) program, arguing the curriculum was too political. This program has been at the center of contentious debates, but a central question has not been thoroughly examined: Do the classes raise student achievement? The current analyses use administrative data from TUSD (2008–2011), running logistic regression models to assess the relationship between taking MAS classes and passing AIMS (Arizona state standardized tests) and high school graduation. Results indicate that MAS participation was significantly related to an increased likelihood of both outcomes occurring. The authors discuss these results in terms of educational policy and critical pedagogy as well as the role academics can play in policy formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1084-1118
Number of pages35
JournalAmerican Educational Research Journal
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 24 2014



  • ethnic studies
  • HB 2281
  • Mexican American Studies
  • program assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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