Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Dissertation


Education, Bilingual; Linguistic minorities--Education; Education--Parent participation;


The rapid growth of the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD) students in public schools of the United States has been steady in the past decades. Issues concerning CLD students such as their school failures, high dropout rates, the limited English proficiency, family poverty, and their unequal job opportunities, have caused increasing concerns from policy makers, school administrators and educators at all school levels. Various efforts to modify CLD students' social and academic disadvantages have been attempted through educational approaches, especially in the form of heritage language support in bilingual education programs initiated at the local school levels and funded by federal financial grants issued. However, since the birth of the Bilingual Education programs in the past decades, issues such as amount of heritage language, the length of its use and how to design appropriate bilingual material in instruction have aroused heated debate among policy makers, researchers and educators at all levels. Moreover, the current debate over bilingual education is becoming more politicized.

The purpose of this study is to find out what the CLD students' parents think about heritage language use in bilingual education and what quality schools are in their perceptions. A substantial number of the recent researches on quality schools for CLD students emphasize that lying at the fundamental levels for quality schools are parents' perceptions, and school's improved productive partnership with the parents of CLD students and their communities. Therefore, tapping the parental perceptions about successful learning of their children and understanding their beliefs in heritage language use in instruction are crucial.

This inquiry was exploratory and a qualitative approach was used with survey and interviews as the research instruments. The population for this inquiry was selected from the parents who chose to send their children to language schools. Data were gathered from four language schools of five sites: Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew and Spanish language schools in Iowa. The settings reflected a diversity of heritage languages. The constant comparative method was used in analysis and interpretation of the data.

The survey data showed the following results: (a) oral heritage language was used by the majority of CLD student's parents at home, except the parents from Hebrew language group, (b) the CLD students' parents held positive attitudes toward heritage language learning, and (c) the CLD students' parents believed that ideal quality schools for their children are bilingual schools or an instruction with extra heritage language teaching. The interview data showed the following categories as the main reasons for CLD students' parents to maintain their children's heritage language learning:

  1. Maintaining cultural and religious heritage.
  2. Strengthening family ties and family moral values.
  3. Keeping connections to their own cultural and language communities.
  4. Promoting bilingual skills for better job opportunities.

This qualitative inquiry into the perceptions of CLD student parents provided important resources for schools to develop an improved school educational model to meet the diverse needs of CLD students.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Department of Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Deborah L Tidwell, Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (viii, 151 pages)



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