Date of Award


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, PhD


School of Educational Studies

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

David Drew

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Dina Maramba

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Gwen Garrison

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2024 Lavanya Jawaharlal


education policy, K-12 education, migrant education, migratory, policy implementation, program implementation

Subject Categories

Education | Elementary and Middle and Secondary Education Administration


Against the backdrop of American agriculture, a significant educational challenge persists: the academic attainment of migrant children. Each year, an estimated 850,000 young migrants accompany their families, constituting a crucial workforce responsible for 75% of our nation's agricultural output. Despite their indispensable role, migrant students confront profound educational disparities, with only 51% managing to graduate from high school, a figure notably lower than the national average of 85%. This educational gap underscores the pressing need to address the unique academic hurdles encountered by migrant children. This dissertation investigates the interpretation and implementation of policies within the Migrant Education Program (MEP), particularly focusing on the role of Migrant Directors. This study employs a mixed-methods approach, combining a survey distributed to Migrant Directors with pre- and post-semi-structured interviews, utilizing an explanatory sequential design. Informed by Michael Lipsky’s theory of Street-Level Bureaucracy (SLB), the study explores how Migrant Directors interpret and implement Migrant policies, navigating the complexities of policy adherence while addressing student needs. The research includes 61 survey participants and 27 interview participants, shedding light on factors influencing policy interpretation, such as policy knowledge, years of service, region size, and state. Findings reveal a strong comprehension of policies, with Migrant Directors prioritizing students’ needs and aligning programming with federal and state goals. Operational challenges, including staffing shortages and student mobility, emerge as significant barriers to program implementation, further complicated by legislative complexity and competing federal programs. Despite challenges, Migrant Directors demonstrate a commitment to equity and innovation, advocating for a comprehensive overhaul of the MEP to better serve student interests. Analysis of summer programming implementation across regions indicates more similarities than differences, with a focus on foundational math courses, culturally relevant lessons, and educational field trips. Migrant Directors emphasize the importance of culturally responsive practices and educational experiences, underscoring the need for increased awareness and advocacy for equity within the MEP. This research contributes to a deeper understanding of the dynamics within the Migrant Education Program, highlighting the intricate balance Migrant Directors must strike between policy adherence and meeting student needs. It underscores the imperative for adaptive policy frameworks and innovative approaches to address the evolving needs of migrant students and their families, advocating for equity and inclusivity within the educational landscape.