Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Using Gottfredson's Theory of Circumscription and Compromise to Improve Latino Students' School Success

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Using Gottfredson's Theory of Circumscription and Compromise to Improve Latino Students' School Success

Article excerpt

Academic success among Latino youth is low relative to other racial/ethnic groups in the United States. It is important that school counselors recognize factors that influence school success among Latino youth and develop strategics to assist those students in reaching their potential. The authors discuss Gottfredson's theory of circumscription and compromise as a framework by which school counselors can conceptualize school failure among Latino youth and devise developmental, contextual, and culturally sensitive interventions to improve Latino students' academic and career success. They present a case study to illustrate ideas and discuss specific implications for school counselors and possibilities for future research.

The Latino population in the United States grew from approximately 35.3 million in 2000 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000) to nearly 50.5 million in 2010 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010). This accelerated growth has made the Latino population the largest ethnic minority group in the United States. Moreover, the Latino population is projected to continue its rapid growth to approximately 1 10 million by the year 2050 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010). With such a significant population increase, it is not surprising that schools in recent years have experienced an influx of Latino students. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES; 2010), from 2000 to 2008, the percentage of Latinos in elementary and secondary schools increased from 17% to 21%. To clarify, the U.S. Census Bureau data reflect individuals from Spanish and Latin American descent, and we will use the term Latino throughout this article in reference to this diverse population.

Latino students' academic success has been low relative to other racial/ethnic groups. An analysis of high school dropout rates by NCES (2010) revealed that, in 2007, the status dropout rate ("percentage of civilian, noninstitutionalized 16- to 24-year-olds who are not in high school and who have not earned a high school credential") for Latino students was 21%, compared with rates of 5% for European Americans, 6% for Asian/Pacific Islanders, 8% for African Americans, and 19.3% for Native Americans. On the basis of this statistic, Latino youth have the highest dropout rate among the major ethnic/racial populations in the United States. This high dropout trend among Latino youth, according to the Department of Education, "risks the nation's economic and social systems, and the future lives and dreams of Latino youth" (as cited in Yowell, 2002, p. 62). Considering the relatively high dropout rates among Latino youth, the negative effect that school failure can have on individuals and on the nation as a whole, and the rapid growth of the Latino population, it becomes apparent that shedding light on factors that influence school success among Latinos and developing strategies to address the problem are of paramount importance.

Understanding and Preventing School Failure

Empirical studies from various disciplines, including education, sociology, and counseling, have revealed an array of factors that contribute to the high dropout rates of Latino youth. Some of the more prevalent factors include the following: school suspensions (Carpenter & Ramirez, 2008), low English-language proficiency (Nesman, 2007), lower acculturation levels (Johnson & Valencia, 2006), discrimination (Johnson & Valencia, 2006), pressure to support a family financially (Lopez, 2009), non-school-oriented social networks (Ream & Rumberger, 2008), lack of school support (Nesman, 2007), minimal academic progress (e.g., being held back a grade; Carpenter & Ramirez, 2008; Nesman, 2007), low parental support (Behnke, Piercy, & Diversi, 2004; Ziomek-Daigle, 2010), a distaste for school (Lopez, 2009), poverty (Wadsworth et al., 2008), work barrier beliefs (Jackson, Kacanski, Rust, & Beck, 2006), family conflict (Nesman, 2007), insufficient procedural knowledge related to career attainment (Behnke et al. …

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