Preparedness and Experiences of Novice Teachers in the Sociopolitical Context of Heightened Immigration Enforcement: Evidence From a Survey of California Teachers

January, 2022

Source: Journal of Teacher Education. 2022;73(1): 37–51

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

With a focus on the experiences and preparedness of novice teachers in California, the author sought to understand how novice teachers experience the impacts of immigration enforcement and identify what components of teacher preparation were viewed as most helpful to support students in the context of rising immigration enforcement.
He was guided by the following research questions:
1:Do novice teachers perceive that immigration enforcement has impacted their students and their own job satisfaction?
2: Do novice teachers perceive that they are prepared to meet the needs of students experiencing the effects of immigration enforcement?
3: Do preservice training characteristics associate with these perceptions?
4:Do these perceptions vary based on school or teacher characteristics?

Data for this study came from graduated preservice teachers from seven of the University of California’s (UC) teacher preparation programs (TPPs) after they completed their first year of full-time teaching.
The seven TPPs included in this study share many similarities.
The UC TPPs share a joint mission in preparing teachers whose teaching is oriented around social justice.
Structurally, all are postgraduate programs that require a minimum of a 3.0 undergraduate grade point average (GPA) for admission, with few exceptions granted by university based administrators.
All programs engage preservice teachers in coursework prior to placing them in cooperating schools.
Following completion of program requirements, preservice teachers receive a teaching credential and either a Master of Education (MEd) or a Master of Arts (MA) degree.

This study used data collected from the 2017 to 2018 graduating cohort at two periods in time.
In preservice, teachers were distributed a survey at the end of their TPPs.
Then once in-service, teachers were distributed a survey at the end of the 2018–2019 school year, which was after they completed 1 year of teaching.
Each survey was approximately 15 to 20 min in length.
Survey incentives were offered in each wave of data collection.

Preservice survey
In the initial survey, 554 graduating preservice teachers from the elementary and secondary credential programs completed the survey, constituting a response rate of 69% to the initial survey.
This preservice survey asked teachers to report their demographic information as well as their perceptions of various components of their preparation in their program.
Prior to data collection, cognitive interviews were conducted with a convenience sample of practicing teachers who are alumni of the UC TPPs to verify items were consistently understood, questions were perceived as fair and accurate, and the survey was generally comprehensive as it relates to the experience of preservice teachers (Desimone & Le Floch, 2004).

Preservice training characteristics
Items soliciting perceptions of preservice training characteristics were reported on 5-point Likert-type scales, where preservice teachers could strongly disagree, disagree, neither agree or disagree, agree, or strongly agree to each question.
These questions were derived from surveys used by Cohen and colleagues (2020) surveying programs in a mid-Atlantic state and a pilot study at one of the TPPs in the UC System (Gottfried et al., 2019).
As such, scales of preservice training used in these prior studies were constructed for the present study using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA).

Exposure to training to support immigrant-origin students
The last portion of the survey consisted of 14 questions that were unique to this study about preservice training characteristics that are specific to supporting immigrant-origin students.
Similar to above, these questions concerned teacher preparation via coursework, field placement, and the TPA in TPPs.
Unlike previous survey items, these questions were asked on a Likert-type scale where options referred to frequency as opposed to agreement with statements.
Based on the results from the EFA, three scales were constructed.
The first scale measured preservice teachers’ exposure to teaching and learning to support immigrant-origin students academically. The second scale measured preservice teachers’ exposure to backgrounds and engagement with immigrant families.
The third scale measured preservice teachers’ exposure to immigration policy.

Follow-up survey
Immigration enforcement outcomes
In the first follow-up survey, 473 teachers responded—85% of the total number of teachers who responded to the preservice survey.
The survey asked 26 questions about teachers’ perceptions of immigration enforcement.
These questions focused on three topics that are the key outcomes of this study.
The second set of questions explored perceptions of the impact of immigration enforcement on teachers’ job satisfaction.
These questions were modified from the work of Sanchez and colleagues (2018) to match the strongly disagree–strongly agree Likert-type scale format.
The third set of questions related to teachers’ preparedness to support immigrant-origin students.
School characteristics.
Finally, teachers were asked to report an estimated proportion of students in their school who come from immigrant homes, the number of students in their class(es), and the grade level(s) they taught.
Teachers were also asked to indicate whether their school was in an urban, suburban, or rural community as well as whether their in-service school was a Title I school.

To answer the research questions, the author employed both descriptive and predictive analytic approaches.
To determine whether novice teachers perceived that immigration enforcement impacted their students and job dissatisfaction as well as whether they perceived themselves as prepared to support immigrant-origin students (Research Questions 1 and 2), he examined the individual survey items comprise the immigration enforcement outcomes as binary.
To determine how preservice training and school or teacher characteristics predict these perceptions, he examined the immigration enforcement outcomes as standardized scales, which in turn allows for a calculation of effect sizes to describe these associations (Cohen, 1992).

Findings and discussion
The purpose of this study was to understand how novice teachers experience the impacts of immigration enforcement and identify what components of teacher preparation were viewed as most helpful to support students in the context of rising immigration enforcement.
Analyzing data collected from novice teachers in California, the author presents evidence suggesting that novice teachers witnessed negative impacts from immigration enforcement on their students as well as their own job dissatisfaction.
Approximately half of the novice teachers in this study perceived themselves as prepared to support students impacted by immigration enforcement.
In addition, results suggest that preservice training characteristics shaped the perceptions of immigration enforcement.
Novice teachers were more likely to perceive themselves as being prepared to support students impacted by immigration enforcement if they had exposure to immigration policy and experiences engaging with immigrant families in their preparation programs.
Novice teachers were more likely to report witnessing the impacts of immigration enforcement on their students if they had exposure to immigration policy in preservice.
Finally, findings suggest that perceptions of immigration enforcement varied based on school and teacher characteristics.
Overall, preservice training characteristics shaped perceptions of immigration enforcement to a greater extent for novice teachers in urban and Title I schools and to a lesser extent for novice elementary teachers.
Knowing that immigration enforcement actions can lead to cascading effects throughout a community and its schools, this study has several takeaways for scholars and teacher educators involved with preparing novice teachers for the challenges that spill over from harsh enforcement actions in their community to their classroom.
First, researchers and teacher educators ought to consider the preservice characteristics that appeared to shape novice teachers’ perceptions of immigration enforcement impacts and their preparedness to support students impacted.
Teachers who reported having greater exposure to and discussion of immigration policy in coursework and fieldwork in their TPPs as well as teachers with a greater proportion of immigrant students in-service were more likely to report that they witnessed negative impacts of immigration enforcement on their students.
This was the strongest and most consistent relationship found in the data.
Teachers who reported having more exposure immigration policy and backgrounds and engagement with immigrant families in their TPPs also tended to report they were better prepared to support students affected by immigration enforcement.
These findings are new to the literature but correspond to prior works suggesting a strong relationship between teachers’ knowledge, dispositions, and empathy about immigration policy’s impact on students and better practices aimed at supporting these students’ success (Rodriguez, 2021; Rodriguez et al., 2018; Rodriguez & McCorkle, 2020; Rodriguez & Monreal, 2017).
These findings also directly support calls from prior research to incorporate more explicit discussion of the backgrounds and experiences of immigrant-origin students and their families in the curricula of TPPs (Goodwin, 2017; Hilburn, 2014).

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Updated: Jun. 02, 2022