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Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)



First Advisor

David Baral

First Committee Member

[?] McFoy[?]

Second Committee Member

Raymond Tom

Third Committee Member

Larry L. Pippin

Fourth Committee Member

Robert R. Hopkins


This case-study had as its principal focus the applicability of James Cummins' theory of developmental interdependence in language acquisition to secondary age students. This theory postulates that, for younger children, the development and strengthening of the first language can ultimately lead to a more rapid and efficient acquisition of the second. The study set out to test the hypothesis that secondary age Limited English Proficient (LEP) students who receive Primary Language Arts instruction demonstrate higher levels of English acquisition than do comparable students who do not receive this instruction. The primary language of the students was Spanish. A quasi-experimental research design was used to compare the effect of different treatments on two relatively equal groups of Hispanic LEP students in a single urban high school over a five year period. Achievement and completion of high school work were examined statistically for students enrolled in English as a Second Language and Espanol Para Hispanos (Spanish for Spanish-Speakers) classes during the course of the study. Hispanic LEP students in neither treatment group and all other Hispanic students in attendance at the school during the study made up additional comparison groups. Results of achievement tests, while not completely conclusive, suggest a qualified affirmative of the hypothesis. Students in the Espanol Para Hispanos (Spanish for Spanish-Speakers) groups demonstrated a statistically significant higher level of achievement in English Reading and Language Arts than did the other LEP groups in Tenth grade. Achievement in English in Eleventh and Twelfth grades, although substantial, was not as definitive. There was also corroboration for Cummins' views on "Student Empowerment". Correlations of Participation in Treatment Groups with Completion of Studies showed that a statistically significant percentage of students who received instruction in the development of their primary language (Spanish) graduated from high school. The Tenth grade was found to be the most crucial year for treatment to be effective, both for achievement and for completion of studies.



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