An ethnographic study of academic self concept in a high poverty minority elementary school



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This ethnographic study of Mesa Elementary (pseudonym) provides unique insight into the culture of a poverty neighborhood school. This ethnographic study focused on the culture’s influence on academic achievement. In addition to the focus on the culture, values, and beliefs of the students, families, neighborhood, and school, the length of time observing the issues were other significant reasons for choosing to conduct an ethnographic study. While Mesa Elementary is suffering the impacts of low academic achievement on state testing, teachers implemented a new Balanced Literacy framework to help provided a best practice for reading instruction while students work diligently every day to improve their foundational reading skills evaluated on state reading assessments. Through interviews with students, teachers, and faculty, a more comprehensive picture emerges concerning students’ academic self-concept in reading, while accounting for the various cultures influences of poverty, neighborhood chaos, classroom and school chaos, in a high minority title I school. Findings included the stability of student academic self-concept during years in which they were subjected to standardized testing, consistent enjoyment of reading to self along with their teachers especially in small groups with the teacher, students ability to define their personal academic growth, and significant improvement in students confidence in their reading ability, children of poverty home lives having early literacy exposure, impact of school chaos being a contributor to the lack of academic growth in students. Keywords: balanced literacy, academic self-concept, reading skills, school chaos, high stakes testing, student voice, student growth

Embargo status: Restricted until 09/2027. To request the author grant access, click on the PDF link to the left.



Balanced Literacy, Academic Self-Concept, Reading Skills, School Chaos, High Stakes Testing, Student Voice, Student Growth