Date of Award

8-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education

Major Professor

Anne McGill-Franzen

Committee Members

Richard Allington, Stergios Botzakis, Gary Skolits

Abstract

Access and equity of instructional and assessment practices used with English Language Learners (ELLs) have been in the forefront of educational research. In recent years, the developments in computerized assessment design and the prevalence of Universal Design for Learning have complicated the already complex terrain of literacy and language instruction and assessment of ELLs. Within this context, the present study focuses on the daily experiences of two third-grade ELLs in a small city school system in the southeast United States. Through classroom observations, interviews with teachers and administrators, and document analysis, this comparative ethnographic case study aims to explore systematic patterns in relation to accommodation use, teacher and student characteristics, classroom activities and content. Guided by the bioecological model of human development, a sociocultural perspective on teaching, and a sociolinguistic view of language learning, I use content analysis to investigate how accommodations are enacted and accounted for across participating classrooms. The findings indicate the complexity of sanctioned and unsanctioned accommodation use during classroom literacy and language assessment and instruction. In addition, the findings suggest the following implications for educators and test developers concerned with educational equity and access for ELLs: teachers’ beliefs about students’ literacy and language development influence accommodation use; monolingual practices imposed by the English-only laws are barriers to equitable educational access by ELLs; language and literacy interventions for ELLs lack consistency across settings; and classroom observations provide insight into the usefulness of high-stakes testing accommodations for diverse students.

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