Date of Award

Spring 2013

Document Type


Terms of Use

© 2013 Sam Panepinto. All rights reserved. This work is freely available courtesy of the author. It may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Educational Studies Department, Sociology & Anthropology Department

First Advisor

Lisa Smulyan

Second Advisor

Steve Viscelli


In this study, I used participant observation in a second-grade Sheltered English Immersion classroom to investigate how race and gender identities in elementary school may be affecting the gendered achievement gap among Latino students in high school. I spent two weeks working closely with the teacher in this classroom, and gathered data on standardized test scores, discipline in the classroom, and achievement in the classroom as they related to gender.

I found that, while boys and girls acted out at about an equal rate, boys who acted out did so frequently and severely, while nearly all girls acted out, but less intensely. This led to the impression of boys being more troublesome, even though half the boys in the class were not disciplined at all while I was there, and all but one ofthe girls were.

Behavior was also not linked to academics; students navigated behavior and school success independently, allowing some students to behave badly yet achieve highly, or vice versa.

The patterns of behavior, however, fed back into a loop ofteacher expectations that classified boys as aggressive and girls as subdued, yet dramatic and catty. These classifications may be seen as precursors to patterns found among Latino adolescents; that boys are dangerous, and girls are sexualized and social.

In order to work towards providing more equal access to school success for all genders and ethnicities, teachers should try to provide multiple definitions of "success" in the classroom. Positive feedback should be balanced between academics and behavior, both in terms ofprevalence and publicity.