Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, Ed.D.



First Advisor

Nicole Ralston

LC Subjects

Culturally relevant pedagogy; Special education--Oregon; Hispanic Americans--Education--Oregon


Latino male students are disproportionately represented in special education programs at a local level in Oregon. Culturally responsive education (CRE) can be used to address disproportionate rates of placement in special education programs for culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students. This research filled a research gap by utilizing the voices of Latino male students in special education at the middle school level. In combination with phenomenological inquiry, this study used testimonio, as a means of gaining insight into disproportionate placement rates of Latino males in special education while relying on the voice of participants as empirical data. Seven Latino male students were each interviewed twice to (a) identify student perceptions of culturally responsive education, (b) define the students’ academic identity, and (c) to explore students’ view of race, ethnicity, and gender. Interviews were coded and analyzed using deductive codes to identify features of CRE, and inductive codes to determine aspects of students’ academic identity and views on race, ethnicity, and gender. Student perceptions indicated a superficial representation of CRE, though participants did not perceive the lack of CRE to be negative. Secondly, participants had developed a complex academic identity that was characterized by clashes between their own academic performance and messages from school about what defines a successful educational experience. Finally, participants did not exhibit critical thinking about the impact that race or ethnicity had on their education. This study concluded that schools and districts need to invest in CRE through critically investigating the equity in their current practices, providing training opportunities for staff, adjusting the curriculum, offering dual language programming, and integrating families and community members. Finally, schools need to teach iv students how to think critically about social justice related issues so that they are able to develop into agents of social change.


Copyright for this work is retained by the author.