An Examination of School Success Factors as Perceived by Parents of Latino English Language Learners
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This qualitative research study aimed to examine English language learner academic and social success in schools as perceived by Latino ELL parents of elementary students within a school district in East Tennessee. The study also sought to identify factors for successful integration into schools as perceived by these parents and the ESL elementary educators within the district. The research was guided by three research questions and the data were collected using focus groups and individual interviews to determine the perceptions of ELL parents and ESL teachers. The data collected revealed ELL parents perceive successful integration into schools as occurring when parent and school goals and are aligned, parents are actively participating in the educational process, and ELL students possess positive traits and behaviors to support their integration into schools. Factors contributing to ELL support as perceived by the participants included schools proactively focusing on the unique needs of ELLs, ELLs developing strong social connections with adults and peers, high quality teachers addressing the unique needs of ELLs, and ELLs taking ownership of their learning. The research revealed when students successfully assimilate into U.S. schools, families gain expertise and ELLs develop positive attitudes and improve work habits. Conversely, participants perceived unsuccessful assimilation into schools lead to ELLs becoming complacent about school and falling behind academically and socially. A major conclusion of the research was that ELL parents have high educational expectations and goals for their children and want them to succeed in school but lack resources and language to support their children. Parents want to understand their new culture and learn strategies to support integration into the school system. With proactive attention to the identification of the unique needs of ELLs and application of targeted strategies, schools, educators, and parents can work together in reciprocity to create a positive learning environment for ELLs to assimilate and succeed academically and socially in schools.