Expanding the pipeline for Latino bilingual teachers: A mixed methods study

Amabilia Valverde Valenzuela, University of Texas at El Paso


Current education reform in the US requires teacher preparation programs to educate future teachers according to the certification standards set forth by each state. Certification for teaching in Texas requires that preservice teachers successfully complete a series of comprehensive examinations in their teaching fields and in professional knowledge before entering full-time teaching. However, researchers have argued (Gitomer, Brown, & Bonett, 2011) that the use of standardized tests often raises concerns about adverse impacts on members of minority groups, who often have lower test scores. The purpose of this research was twofold: First, to analyze factors that predict Mexican American teacher candidates' success on Texas bilingual certification examinations; and second, to develop a deeper understanding about the complex web of issues related to the experiences of bilingual Mexican American students residing on the Texas/Mexico border and preparing to become certified teachers, from the students' perspectives. Based on the research questions, this study employed a sequential mixed methods approach, using quantitative and qualitative methodology and consisting of three phases: 1) Quantitative, 2) Qualitative, and 3) Integration of quantitative and qualitative results. The theoretical frameworks employed were: Self-efficacy theory, Critical Race Theory, Latina Critical Race Theory, and Borderland Cultural Wealth. The procedures included in this model were designed with the aim to more fully answer the research questions and develop a more robust and meaningful picture of the research problem. The mixing of both methods took place at three different stages during the research: (1) in the selection of participants for the qualitative phase; (2) in the development and refinement of interview questions; and (3) in the combined interpretation and discussion of the quantitative and qualitative findings. The research questions guiding this study were: 1) How are GPA, SAT, THEA, and Qualifying Test scores of future Mexican American bilingual teachers correlated? 2) To what extent do these variables predict the performance of these bilingual teacher candidates on state-mandated high-stakes tests (TExES), particularly Bilingual Education Generalist (BilEd) and Pedagogy and Professional Responsibility (PPR) exam scores? 3) How do Mexican American college students attending a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) on the U.S.-México border describe their experiences of navigating the pathway to becoming "highly qualified" teachers? 4) To what extent does the combination of quantitative and qualitative findings generate new knowledge and lead to new insights about the bilingual teacher certification process for Mexican Americans? The first phase of the study consisted of the analysis of secondary archived data. The variables of interest were SAT verbal scores, SAT Math scores, THEA Reading scores, final GPA, TExES PPR scores, TExES Bilingual Generalist scores, and TExES BTLPT scores. Correlation and multiple regression tests were conducted. The three multiple regression models tested for each one of the TExES exams were statistically significant, with SAT verbal being the strongest predictor of TExES test performance. The second phase involved the collection and analysis of qualitative data. The qualitative design employed a multiple case study approach. Six participants were selected through purposive sampling, attempting to match some of the characteristics in the quantitative phase such as gender, age, and passing rates on the TExES exams. Data collection consisted of semi-structured interviews, field notes, observations, and reflection journals. Collected data were analyzed utilizing grounded theory strategies. Four themes emerged from the quantitative data analysis: Persistence/Resilience, Biliteracy as an Asset, Collaborative Learning, and Supportive Systems. The final phase focused on the integration of the quantitative results and qualitative findings. Based on this mixing of results, meta-inferences were reached, resulting in a model highlighting the significance of verbal skills and biliteracy on TExES bilingual exam performance. Finally, limitations, implications, and recommendations are discussed.

Subject Area

Bilingual education|Teacher education|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Valverde Valenzuela, Amabilia, "Expanding the pipeline for Latino bilingual teachers: A mixed methods study" (2013). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI3609507.