“What is the enrollment process like for newly-arrived, English-speaking West Indian students in Hartford and Bloomfield Public Schools?”
“What services or programs (if any) are available for newly-arrived English-speaking West Indian students?”
Our data collection strategy included three prongs: 1) Reviewing policy documents and forms, 2) Interviews with education system administrators at both the district level and the school level, and 3) Online and in-person surveys people who had experienced immigrating from the West Indies and enrolling in U.S. schools.
Reviewing Policy documents and forms
We read policies of both Hartford Public Schools in order to try and find programs that the school systems have in place for the students our research is focused on.
Interviews with Administrators
We interviewed 5 school administrators and Board of Education officials who are responsible for the enrollment of newly arriving students into Hartford. Interviews with these officials and administrators along with online research of district-level programs and policies were conducted mainly to answer research question 1:
“What services or programs (if any) are available for newly-arrived English-speaking West Indian Students?”
At first, we reached out to different administrators within four different schools known for having a higher number of West Indian students from grades 6-12 along with the Board of Education via email. From this, we were able to get in contact with two of the schools and a member of the Hartford Board of Education.
In addition, we visited the Welcome Center for Hartford Public Schools in person to experience the center from the perspective of someone trying to enroll their child and talk with those tasked with intake.
Electronic and In-Person Interviews
We used a snowball sampling method to collect first-hand stories and experiences from the people who had recently immigrated from the West Indies and enrolled in the US school system. Through the in-person interviews, we were able to get these stories and experiences from the participants. We also created a short survey (using Google Forms) mainly to target individuals who do not have the time or did not want to participate in the in-person interview to answer two central questions:
“Tell us about your experience bringing your student into the US school system.”
“What kind of services and programs do you feel would be helpful for your student to succeed in school?”
We used flyers and social media as a way of spreading the word in the community at large (using Facebook posts on the West Indian Foundation and Capital Community College pages). We visited areas and events that are known to have a bigger West Indian community such as: The West Indian Social Club fish fry event, public libraries (Hartford Public Library the Albany Branch), Saint Monica’s Episcopal Church, shops, barber shops, etc. Finding people who fit the criteria for our study proved to be very difficult. Some people either had very young children or older children, some had American born children, some had no children at all and others were just not interested in taking part.
At the time of these actions, our criteria consisted of: Students having been at least 10 when they immigrated and are now currently in a Hartford or Bloomfield Public middle or high school and are English-speaking.
In all, we collected 12 survey responses including 3 in-person interviews with newly arrived West Indian students.
The short survey can be found here
Check out the interview questions here