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

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Abstract

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.

LanguageEnglish (US)
Pages1084-1118
Number of pages35
JournalAmerican Educational Research Journal
Volume51
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 24 2014

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school graduation
empiricism
study program
educational policy
logistics
district
regression
curriculum
participation
school
student

Keywords

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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

Cite this

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title = "Missing the (Student Achievement) Forest for All the (Political) Trees: Empiricism and the Mexican American Studies Controversy in Tucson",
abstract = "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.",
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