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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




The purpose of the study was to examine the growth of English academic language proficiency by language minority students who were learning English as a second language in an urban school setting. In light of Cummins' theory of language proficiency, the research investigated English development over a one year period in the areas of language most needed for academic success in school, reading and language. Growth in English academic language proficiency was examined across socioeconomic groups, language groups, years of instruction in the district, places of birth, and levels of oral language proficiency. The research sample included 4,663 students in two groups: a focus group of 2,460 students learning English as a second language in school, and a comparison group of 2,203 students from an English language background who had never received second language instruction. All the students were enrolled in grades 4 and 5 and had participated in districtwide standardized test administrations in Spring 1988 and Spring 1989. In addition to test results, information was collected pertaining to the following background characteristics: socioeconomic status, primary language background, length of time in the district, birthplace, and level of oral language proficiency. Statistical analysis with t-tests and Anovas indicated significant differences in CTBS Reading and Language gain scores favoring the second language learners compared to the national norm group and the non-second language learners. Although there was a narrowing of the achievement gap, it would take 5 to 7 years to close it at the observed rate. Among second language learners there were no differences in Reading and Language growth by socioeconomic status; all SES groups were narrowing the gap. There were differences in Reading and Language gains by years in the district; the students with fewer years were exhibiting the greater gains. In Reading growth there were no significant differences by language background, birthplace, or oral language proficiency; however, in Language growth there were differences. These differences were in the test area which is more dependent on formal schooling. It is recommended that emphasis be placed on reading and writing instruction and that students be given bilingual/ESL support for a longer period time.



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