Date of Award

1-18-2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)

Department

Educational and School Psychology

First Advisor

Joseph F. Kovaleski, D.Ed.

Second Advisor

Monte G. Tidwell, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Antoinette H. Miranda, Ph.D.

Abstract

This study identified key background variables that are highly correlated with Limited English Proficient student outcomes, either individually or in combinations. Archival data for primary grade second language learners was gathered from the records of a large urban school district in Central Ohio, including specific social, cultural and educational factors and multiple administrations of the Ohio Test of English Language Acquisition (OTELA). Analyses conducted indicated that nearly every predictor variable addressed through this study impacted OTELA performance across the board (the exception being the variables of Sex and Student Mobility). Findings from this study support the recommended best practice literature that suggests investigating multiple factors associated with student language development, and ideally will help to spur legislative action to align the law with practices that are informed by what we know about the process of second language acquisition, or at least are supported by theory and research as it currently stands. An unexpected finding from this study suggests that access to institutional supports and services (e.g., Free Lunch programming) for LEP families and students may need to be increased. The variables of SES and Student Mobility were both problematic for this study, and may benefit from reexamination. Future research should examine more complex path models that include a broader range of variables than could be represented here, such as the impact of home variables (e.g., parental education level, home literacy environment, level of acculturation) and `within-student' variables (e.g., cognitive ability, motivation and attitude). Ideally this research would lead to the creation of a comprehensive model that captures enough of the causal structure underlying second language acquisition to allow for reliable and valid recommendations for educational decision making.

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