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Academic Profiling

Latinos, Asian Americans, and the Achievement Gap

2013
Author:

Gilda L. Ochoa

Academic Profiling

The achievement gap as it is actually experienced by Latino and Asian American students in one California high school

In Academic Profiling, Gilda L. Ochoa addresses today’s so-called achievement gap by going directly to the source. At one California public high school where the controversy is lived every day, Ochoa turns to the students, teachers, and parents to learn about the very real disparities—in opportunity, status, treatment, and assumptions—that lead to more than just gaps in achievement.

Remarkably provocative and perceptive, Academic Profiling is a meticulously researched and masterfully argued comparative study of how the system of schooling, contrary to the rhetoric of equal opportunities, re-enforces the achievement gap and reproduces disparities. With ethnographic insight and analytical precision, Gilda L. Ochoa details how immigration, racialization, class, and gender differentially impacts the educational trajectories for Asian and Latino students, and presents compelling lessons for transforming the context, culture, and process of learning.

Linda Vo, University of California, Irvine

Today the achievement gap is hotly debated among pundits, politicians, and educators. In particular this conversation often focuses on the two fastest-growing demographic groups in the United States: Asian Americans and Latinos. In Academic Profiling, Gilda L. Ochoa addresses this so-called gap by going directly to the source. At one California public high school where the controversy is lived every day, Ochoa turns to the students, teachers, and parents to learn about the very real disparities—in opportunity, status, treatment, and assumptions—that lead to more than just gaps in achievement.

In candid and at times heart-wrenching detail, the students tell stories of encouragement and neglect on their paths to graduation. Separated by unequal middle schools and curriculum tracking, they are divided by race, class, and gender. While those channeled into an International Baccalaureate Program boast about Socratic classes and stress-release sessions, students left out of such programs commonly describe uninspired teaching and inaccessible counseling. Students unequally labeled encounter differential policing and assumptions based on their abilities—disparities compounded by the growth in the private tutoring industry that favors the already economically privileged.

Despite the entrenched inequality in today’s schools, Academic Profiling finds hope in the many ways students and teachers are affirming identities, creating alternative spaces, and fostering critical consciousness. When Ochoa shares the results of her research with the high school, we see the new possibilities—and limits—of change.

Academic Profiling

Gilda L. Ochoa is professor of sociology and Chicana/o-Latina/o studies at Pomona College. She is the author of Becoming Neighbors in a Mexican American Community and Learning from Latino Teachers and coeditor of Latino Los Angeles.

Academic Profiling

Remarkably provocative and perceptive, Academic Profiling is a meticulously researched and masterfully argued comparative study of how the system of schooling, contrary to the rhetoric of equal opportunities, re-enforces the achievement gap and reproduces disparities. With ethnographic insight and analytical precision, Gilda L. Ochoa details how immigration, racialization, class, and gender differentially impacts the educational trajectories for Asian and Latino students, and presents compelling lessons for transforming the context, culture, and process of learning.

Linda Vo, University of California, Irvine

In the absence of an all-encompassing social movement, Ochoa demonstrates how only a courageous, power-conscious, counter-hegemonic curriculum can act as a counterweight to divisive policies and practices like student tracking. Ochoa has done the important work of addressing the complexities of Latino/a and Asian American schooling in one community and given us a language, framework, and perspective with which to discuss and critique it.

Angela Valenzuela, University of Texas, Austin

By centering students’ experiences, in Academic Profiling Ochoa exposes the many faults in our educational system and the ways that students and our communities are hurt.

Pomona College News

Academic Profiling

Contents

Abbreviations
Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Academic Profiling at a Southern California High School

Part I: Prevailing Ideologies and School Structures
1. Framing the “Gap”: Dominant Discourses of Achievement
2. Welcome to High School: Tracking from Middle School to International Baccalaureate Programs

Part II: School Practices and Family Resources
3. “I’m Watching Your Group”: Regulating Students Unequally
4. “Parents Spend Half a Million on Tutoring”: Standardized Tests and Tutoring Gaps

Part III: Everyday Relationships and Forms of Resistance
5. “They Just Judge Us by Our Cover”: Students’ Everyday Experiences with Race
6. “Breaking the Mindset”: Forms of Resistance and Change
7. Processes of Change: Cycles of Reflection, Dialogue, and Implementation

Conclusion: Possibilities and Pitfalls in Any School U.S.A.

Appendix: Student Participants, Staffulty, and Parents
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Academic Profiling

DISCUSSION GUIDE

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UMP blog - Listening to students—especially the most marginalized

Twenty years after I graduated from high school, I returned to a Southern California school as a researcher. On campus, the brick buildings, school bells, lunches, and overall rhythm of the day were familiar. So was the clustering of different students across campus, and for eighteen months I sat in on classes. I attended rallies, graduations, and meetings to learn more about these peer groups. I met with teachers and counselors, but most of my time was spent listening to students. Across from tables, gathered around benches, and sitting in circles, I asked them about their schooling, friendships, and future plans.

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