Dissertation

An analysis of how teacher education programs prepare teachers to meet the instructional needs of English learners

The achievement gap between English learners and non-English learners is wide in California; something must be done to close the gap. Research suggests university training of mainstream teachers in areas more specific to the needs of English learners may be helpful. However, there is limited research that follows graduates for one year after earning their teaching credential to explore if they believe they were provided adequate university training. My dissertation aimed to fill that gap. More specifically, I analyzed extensive survey data from teachers at their time of graduation from a California State University campus and one year later, after being in their own classroom. I focused on how well teachers feel their university prepared them to instruct English learners in their classrooms, using different quantitative approaches to analyze this topic. A paired samples t-Test indicated teachers felt less confident in their university preparation in all aspects related to teaching English learners one year after teaching compared to when they graduated. I also found that teachers felt more prepared to instruct English learners in their classrooms if they felt prepared in areas of classroom management, able to meet the needs of diverse students, able to meet the needs of special learners, capable of differentiating academic instruction, able to develop academic language for English learners, capable of teaching English learners by building on their prior abilities, were familiar with outside resources, and able to analyze a variety of evidence when assessing students. Deans of Education will get a better sense of a realistic feeling of teacher preparedness if they use survey data from one year after teaching to inform changes in their teacher education program. Beginning at the top level, university professors should take advantage of professional development opportunities that focus on teaching aspects that correlate to a preparation to teach English learners so they can create updated lesson plans for their teaching credential candidates. Teachers already employed at the school level would benefit from effective professional development training in areas that focus on instructing English learners. Further research would help ensure teachers’ feeling of preparedness translates to improved student achievement.

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