Theses and Dissertations - UTB/UTPA

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Karen Watt

Second Advisor

Dr. Anita Pankake

Third Advisor

Dr. Marie Simonsson


The purpose of this study was to identify, discover, uncover, examine, and document factors that contribute to Hispanic English Language Learners’ (ELL) high academic performance in high school science in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Participants were high school seniors enrolled in college-level classes who had scored commended on the science exit-level Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills and ranked toward the top of their class. One science teacher and school administrator from the respective schools also participated in this study. One student from each of four different high schools in south Texas was selected to participate. School officials identified students meeting the participant criteria and provided consent documents. In this qualitative multicase study, students were interviewed on three different dates. Administrators and science teachers were also interviewed for triangulation. Significant findings showed that factors contributing to high academic performance in science were mainly intrinsic. Hispanic ELL students need meaningful responsibilities to internalize self-esteem and self-efficacy to realize high academic performance. Self-motivation, a contributing factor, provides students with a positive outlook on high academic performance and the ability to defer more immediate undermining rewards. Students envision themselves as future integral members of society by working in a field that will directly provide a positive impact on others. This helps their self-esteem as well as their self-worth and supports high academic performance. Parental and teacher support are critical. Low socioeconomic status is not a causal factor for poor academic performance. School administrations should facilitate knowledge and skills for appropriate staff to willingly and enthusiastically mentor targeted students and for parents to promote, inspire, and motivate students’ positive intrinsic qualities. Future studies should examine different leadership styles that maximize teachers’ ability to influence students’ high academic performance. Finally, provide students the appropriate guidance to set career goals and demonstrate that high academic achievement is logical, attainable, and beneficial for all students.


Copyright 2014 Antonio Elizondo. All Rights Reserved.

Granting Institution

University of Texas-Pan American