Equity, Early Literacy, and English Learners: Equipping English Learner Teachers for Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Early Literacy Instruction

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Johns Hopkins University
The research study presented in this dissertation explores the problem of discrepant early literacy achievement between young English learners (ELs) and their non-EL peers. A review of literature in chapter one revealed several factors contributing to ELs’ stymied achievement, including EL policy and programming, teacher knowledge and skills, home/school connections, and learner characteristics. The literature review identified such salient factors which were the subject of study in an empirical needs assessment presented in chapter two. The needs assessment examined how factors of EL instructional model, school location, and teacher beliefs informed ELs’ academic achievement in the school system. Results evidenced low EL student achievement in early literacy and showed that teachers in the school system relied on ineffective EL instructional models and struggled with self-efficacy for culturally responsive teaching. Needs assessment results informed the design of a bilingual assessment and teacher training program grounded in Cummins’ (1979) theory of linguistic interdependence and Pennycook’s (2001) critical applied linguistics. The researcher conducted a quasi-experimental pretest-posttest convergent parallel mixed methods study to evaluate the program. The eight-week intervention program yielded significant increases to teachers’ self-efficacy for culturally responsive instruction, language transfer strategy use, and Spanish language use in the early childhood classroom. Findings of the study suggest the program’s efficacy for equipping teachers for culturally and linguistically responsive early literacy instruction, even among a largely monolingual English-speaking sample.
English learners, early literacy, culturally responsive education, linguistically responsive education, equity