Fischler College of Education: Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2015

Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Abraham S. Fischler College of Education

Advisor

Goli Rezai-Rashti

Committee Member

Nibaldo Galleguillos

Abstract

This applied dissertation was designed to explore the relationship between the language complexity of high school academic assessments and the language proficiency of English Language Learners (ELLs) in their academic achievement levels and to examine what accommodation strategies would be the most effective in reducing performance gaps between ELLs and non-ELLs that are due to language factors. Students designated ELL by the school where the study took place scored significantly lower than non-ELL students in teacher-created content area assessments and state-standardized tests. English for speakers of other languages accommodations, such as extended time in completing tasks and assessments and the use of dictionaries and glossaries, seemed to narrow the gap between ELLs and non-ELLs; however, the effect was not substantial.

Research was conducted to determine whether providing English for speakers of other languages linguistic modification accommodations increased student scores. Two groups of students participated in this research: the control group received the standard test, and the experimental group received the modified test. An original 10th-grade reading comprehension test normed on English-speaking students was administered to the control group and the linguistically modified version of the original test was administered to the experimental group. A comparison of the outcomes was assessed to find out whether there was a significant difference in academic achievement between the two groups. This quantitative study was followed by a qualitative study through student interviews to examine whether there was a relationship between the perceptions of ELLs on the usefulness of the accommodation types and their test scores.

An analysis of the data revealed that students with low English language proficiency may not understand the test questions they are expected to answer. As a result, their test scores may not be an accurate measure of the test item construct, but a measure of their limited English skills.

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