Date of Award

Spring 3-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Dr. Sarah Coppersmith

Second Advisor

Dr. Sherrie Wisdom

Third Advisor

Dr. Alina Slapac


Elementary Spanish language immersion programs have become more popular in the educational field in the United States to support the academic achievement of minority students. The final goal of immersion programs is to develop proficiency in the home language and dominant language, identified as first language (L1) and second language (L2), to impact the understanding of academic concepts. This study explores teachers’ perspectives of U.S.-born ELL Hispanic students’ academic achievement and educational growth in a Spanish language immersion program. Ultimately, the study aimed to identify processes that educational leaders could incorporate into instructional models to improve as many Hispanic students’ experiences and outcomes as possible. Research questions explored include: 1) What are teachers’ perspectives of U.S.-born ELL Hispanic students’ academic achievements in a Spanish language immersion program? 2) What are the trends, such as social, behavioral, and cultural, that teachers perceive about the academic growth of U.S.-born ELL Hispanic students in a Spanish language immersion program? and 3) What do teachers perceive to be the processes that educators can incorporate in the Spanish language immersion program to improve the academic achievement of U.S.-born ELL Hispanic students? A semi-structured interview and focus groups were used to approach the participating teachers (n=10) from one elementary school, identified as the pseudonym a Midwestern Spanish Language Immersion Program (MSLIP), that provides 80% of instruction in Spanish and about 20% in English for ELLs. Data analyzed for this study included secondary sources composed of information such as standardized test scores, iii behavior incident reports, attendance, age, parents’ ethnicity and school background, and years of schooling at MSLIP. Major findings from this study showed that teachers at MSLIP perceive that U.S.- born ELL Hispanic students benefit from learning academics in their home language as students had better comprehension of content. However, MSLIP teachers recognized that having a 50/50 bilingual immersion model would facilitate a balanced program to succeed academically in the United States. Recommendations for further research includes among others: developing strategies to overcome the educational trends to perform in the subject content in both languages, English and Spanish; and research how the “deficit perspective” is affecting the teachers’ practices in urban settings since this is a distractor for teachers improving their professional practices.


Copyright 2016