The purpose of this study was to examine and compare the perceptions that refugee and non-refugee English language learners hold of their academic performance and their perceived sense of membership in a school community. Students currently served in EL programs in grades 9-12 in a large urban school district were invited to participate in the study. Student perceptions were measured using the Morgan Jinks Student Efficacy Scale (MJSES) and Goodenow Pyschological Sense of School Membership (PSSM) scale.

Unexpectedly, the results indicated that differences of perceptions of student efficacy and school membership between the two groups of students were not statistically significant. There was no correlation between efficacy and school membership for refugee students, and a small correlation between the same variables in the non-refugee student group. Student responses to open-ended questions were also coded for emerging themes around student perception of academic performance and school community.

The results from the study do, however, serve to provide new perspective around the experience of Karen students in a large, urban, district in the Midwest. This is unique information, and possibly the first such study to measure Karen students' perspectives of both academic achievement and school membership.


Candace Raskin

Committee Member

Anne Dahlman

Committee Member

Jason Kaufman

Date of Degree




Document Type



Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License



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