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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Supporting the Needs of English Language Learners through Social Justice Leadership: A Mixed Methods Approach
by Sieloff, Matthew, Ed.D., The George Washington University, 2020, 234; 27833439
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this study was to determine to what extent is there a relationship between English language proficiency level and student performance on Virginia’s high school standards of learning end of course subject tests. Using these data as a foundation, educators were interviewed to determine the unique challenges faced by EL students and the supports that educators use to address these challenges.

This mixed methods study involved two phases of research. Phase one was an analysis of student test performance data on the WIDA-ACCESS English proficiency test, as well as student performance on seven different Virginia End of Course subject tests. Phase two was a qualitative study involving interviews with 12 experienced educators of a school division with a large EL population. These interviews focused on understanding their experiences as they contextualized their efforts to support EL students attain their high school diploma, which requires these passing standardized tests in English. This study drew on the conceptual frameworks of sociocultural learning theory and social justice leadership in education.

Analysis of the quantitative data revealed a modest positive correlation between English language proficiency and student performance on most content-specific subject tests, however this relationship also indicated that there are additional factors that influence the performance of ELs on standardized tests. Analysis of the interview data revealed that educators at all levels of the organization believe that instructional design should be intentional to support all learners. A second finding was that educator’s relationship with their students was essential in the educational process. This study reveals that standardized test success comes from a process that requires both technical skill and knowledge from the educator mixed with the foundational belief of educators that all students can be successful through inclusion and high expectations and support by maximizing the assets of ELs in an English-speaking classroom.

Implications for future research include aligning federal standardized testing policy with language acquisition research. At the school level, educational leadership should build relationships with the community to provide social supports both inside and outside of school, as well as provide targeted, subject-specific professional development to teachers of ELs. At the classroom level, teachers should use language acquisition instructional best practices to develop and reinforce the vocabulary development and contextual understanding of their English learners.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Tekleselassie, Abebayehu A.
Commitee: Swayze, Susan S., Jackson, Jeffrey C.
School: The George Washington University
Department: Educational Administration & Policy Studies
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 81/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational administration, Secondary education, Educational tests & measurements
Keywords: English learners, High school, Social justice, Sociocultural learning theory, Standardized testing
Publication Number: 27833439
ISBN: 9798607312084
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