Date of Award:

12-2019

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Education

Advisor/Chair:

Kathleen A. J. Mohr

Co-Advisor/Chair:

Karin de Jonge-Kannan

Third Advisor:

Eric Mohr

Abstract

English language learners (ELLs) are the fastest growing student group in U.S. public schools. ELLs also consistently lag behind their native-English speaking peers in academic achievement. These facts set the stage for the study that evaluated one school district’s program to prepare their teachers to effectively educate ELLs. This program included a year-long series of six professional development courses that covered ELL-specific topics. The study’s evaluation tools included an online survey completed by teachers who took the courses, teachers’ feedback on course evaluation forms, interviews of district-level officials familiar with the program, and an examination of the homework assignments from each course.

The program evaluation showed that teachers and district officials thought the courses helped prepare the teachers to instruct ELLs. However, the teachers’ feedback about the program’s influence included some specific references to teaching ELLs, but more examples from general education settings. The evaluation also found that only about 10% of the homework assignments required direct instruction of students. These evaluation results suggest that the program could be strengthened to include more opportunities for teachers to practice instructing ELLs. This additional practice could increase teachers’ confidence to serve the needs of ELLs in their classrooms.

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