Date of Award

Spring 5-2009

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Education

First Advisor

Dr. Terry Reid

Second Advisor

Dr. Sherry DeVore

Third Advisor

Dr. Doug Hayter

Abstract

This study was inspired by the many English language learners who have overcome the struggles of achieving proficiency in English. The district studied is a small school district with approximately 1850 students. In 1999, there were 148 Hispanic students, and this number has more than doubled in the last nine years. For a school that was basically void of diversity twenty years ago, it is now a school in which almost one-fifth of its population is a second language learner. Currently over seven languages are represented in its population, and those numbers continue to grow. The district has faced many challenges as it has progressed towards the embracing and educating of English language learners. First, attitudes of the community had to be overcome. Second, programs had to be developed and implemented to best fulfill the needs of these children, and last, educators had to be trained and equipped to use best practices for teaching English language learners. In the midst of these obstacles, high-stakes testing was implemented, which magnified the challenges. Despite the obstacles, many students in the district are successfully mainstreaming into the regular classroom and achieving academic proficiency as measured by grades, norm-referenced exams, criterion-referenced exams, and standardized language proficiency tests. This study was an in-depth observation of a rural school district's educational programs for ELL students. The purpose was to discover patterns of teaching and learning that help ELL students become proficient. Attitudes, motivating factors, and test data were studied to gain insight for continued school improvement. The information was presented in a descriptive manner, and the study included both qualitative and quantitative data.

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