Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Teaching and Learning (Education)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Luciana de Oliveira

Second Committee Member

Elizabeth Harry

Third Committee Member

Wendy Cavendish

Fourth Committee Member

Dina Birman


The overarching purpose of this study was to fill a gap in the academic literature not only by shedding light on the experiences and perceptions of teachers of late-entering Central American students with limited or interrupted formal education (SLIFE), all of whom teach in segregated, high-poverty, under-resourced, urban high schools, but in looking at what works in those challenging contexts. Therefore, the research questions asked what the teachers’ experiences have been in serving the focal students, what challenges the teachers have faced and how they have addressed them, how they effectively leveraged the focal students’ strengths and languaging practices in the classroom, and how teachers, schools, and districts can improve their services. This qualitative study employed Latina/o critical race theory (LatCrit) as the conceptual framework and constructivist grounded theory methods for the data analysis. Fifteen high school teachers from different subject areas were interviewed, and the findings were member checked with focus group interviews. The participants had to have taught Central American newcomers for at least one year since the influx of unaccompanied minors from the northern triangle countries in 2014. A theoretical statement and six themes emerged, and they have implications for policy, practice, and research.


SLIFE; SIFE; refugees; urban high schools; teachers' perceptions and experiences