ELL & Bilingual Education

  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Magaly Lavadenz
    Assessing the Oral Language Proficiency of English Language Learners

    Few classroom measures of English language proficiency have been evaluated for reliability and validity. This research examined the concurrent and predictive validity of an oral language test, titled A Developmental English Language Proficiency Test (ADEPT), and the relationship to the California English Language Development Test (CELDT) in the receptive/listening and expressive/speaking domains. Four years of retroactive data representing 392 student records were obtained from a local urban school district in Los Angeles County with a significant proportion of English language learners. After preparing the data file for analysis, data was analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) system. Cronbach's alpha was used to analyze the internal consistency of ADEPT. Pearson r analysis was performed to examine concurrent validity and predictive validity. Findings indicated moderate to high correlation coefficients of internal consistency in the first three levels of ADEPT. Concurrent validity results varied depending on the school year. In the most recent school year, 2012-2013, positive moderate to strong correlations were found. This relationship was weaker in each previous year. Overall, correlations increased and remained positive as sample size increased but predictive validity was weak for all three sets of comparative years. These findings support the use of ADEPT as a multiple measure, as a monitoring tool and to inform instruction.

  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Marta Baltodano
    Engaging the Lived Realities of Adult Immigrant English Language Learners: a Case Study of Literacy for Consciousness

    This qualitative study had two goals. The first goal was to understand how a critical, non-formal, adult literacy program addresses the challenges and successes, which the students and volunteers identify at Amanecer Adult School. The second goal was to explore the perception of the student Spanish-speaking immigrants on the extent to which this program contributes to their second language acquisition and critical citizenship. These goals were examined through studying a local nonprofit organization, Amanecer Adult School, (AAS) that espouses critical literacy as its main goal. Using qualitative methodology and an inductive analysis approach to the data, the findings of the study were disheartening. At best, functional language learning was being both taught and learned in class, focusing on basic verbs and vocabulary. There was no critical work being done in the classroom.

    The challenges of the program far outweighed the positives found in the data. The students, while respecting their teachers, were rarely assessed; there was no established curriculum nor means to discuss the students' lived realities. Additionally, the lack of resources, including money, time, space and classroom materials, at AAS was almost overwhelming for the volunteers. The lack of training in, and no understanding of, popular education by the volunteers at AAS stood out as a major issue.

  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Magaly Lavadenz
    Examining English Language Development among English Language Learners with Specific Learning Disability

    As the population of English Language Learners (ELLs) continues to grow in schools, so does the concern for their lack of academic progress and the possible inequitable representation of this culturally and linguistically diverse population in special education (Artiles, Rueda, Salazar, & Higareda, 2005; Guiberson, 2009; Mac Swan & Rolstad, 2006; Rinaldi & Samson, 2008). Of particular concern is the increase of ELLs with an eligibility of Specific Learning Disability (SLD), especially when examined at the local level (Klinger, Artiles, & Barletta, 2006). To understand this phenomenon at the local level, this mixed-method study examined ELLs with SLD in a large California urban school district by targeting English language development (ELD) at the macro and micro level. The researcher accomplished this focus by examining the relationship between English language proficiency levels, grade levels, and type of learning disorder among kindergarten through twelfth grade ELLs with SLD. The researcher analyzed cumulative educational records of three eighth grade ELLs with SLD, including Individualized Educational Programs (IEPs), to examine how ELD needs have been addressed. The results of the quantitative portion of this study revealed greater distribution patterns of ELLs with SLD in sixth through ninth grades. The researcher also found ELLs with SLD to be primarily represented in the early stages of ELD (beginning, early intermediate, and intermediate) and identified with an auditory processing disorder. Results of the case studies also revealed that after nine years of ELD instruction, the students had not reclassified as English proficient and documented evidence of ELD instruction and support was minimal.

  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Magaly Lavadenz
    The Biliteracy Achievement of Latino English Learners in Two-Way Immersion Elementary Programs

    This normative comparative study sought to compare the reading achievement, in English and Spanish, of Latino English learners in a 50/50 two-way immersion (TWI) bilingual program to Latino English learners in a 90/10 TWI program. The scores from 55 students across four TWI programs, two 50/50 and two 90/10, were analyzed. The principal from each school was also interviewed. Quantitative data from the district's reading Benchmark Book Test, California Standards Test/English Language Arts and Standards-based Test in Spanish were analyzed using repeated measures ANOVA, Bonferroni Post Hoc and Chi Square to compare the means between the students' reading achievement in Spanish and English by program model. Overall the biliteracy results revealed that the main effect between programs was not significant ( p = .23) nor was the within subjects effect (p = .42). However, the interaction of grade and program was significant (p = .001). English and Spanish literacy results showed the students in the 50/50 TWI program outperformed students in the 90/10 TWI program by end of fifth grade; however across program models more students reached grade level literacy in English than in Spanish. Interviews with the principals of each school revealed that when analyzing test data at the school site level, English data were analyzed more closely and more systematically due to accountability measures indicating that NCLB has had a profound effect on the biliteracy attainment of Latino English learners in two-way immersion.

  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Marta Baltodano
    Literacy and Ideology: A Qualitative Research Study of a Language Arts Class of Language Minority Students Using the Scripted Curriculum High Point

    This qualitative research study inquired about the literacy experiences of language minority students in a middle school language arts classroom using the scripted program High Point. In addition, the study inquired about the ideology present in the curricular program High Point. Using qualitative methodology and an inductive analysis approach to the data, the findings of this study were alarming. The study found that there was no literacy or learning occurring in the classroom. There was not even functional literacy occurring in the classroom. On the contrary, students were being assimilated into a dominant culture different than their own, leading to resistance on the students' behalf as they were clearly tracked for a life in high school that did not prepare them for academic success.

  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Magaly Lavadenz
    Organizational Assimilation through Heritage Language Programming: Reconciling Justice and Bilingualism

    The purpose of this mixed-methods study was to analyze the effectiveness of a heritage language Spanish program from the standpoint of organizational, curricular, and co-curricular practices. In this study, heritage language study was defined as having an emphasis on maintaining cultural awareness and language needs (Beaudrie, 2009) through cultural mediation, in which the experiences and identity of students are developed as areas of strength in the educational experience (Bennett, 2003; Gollnick & Chinn, 2004; Lovelace & Wheeler, 2006). The setting for this mixed-methodology study was an all-male Catholic secondary school. The participants in this study numbered 78 students in the heritage language courses and 10 faculty and administration members. The data collected pointed to significant areas for growth in the school's distinction between heritage language learners and native speakers.

    The findings suggested the prevalence of the following themes: class and racial discrimination, student internalization of deficit thinking, and the power struggle between the power structure and Latino student population. The implications of this study were that the program would benefit from greater teacher preparation in terms of degree background, increased emphasis in activities that promote student verbal communication in the heritage language, and greater incorporation of varied classroom practices in order to empower students to achieve a proficient level of bilingualism and biculturalism.