Masters Thesis

Improving Access to Opportunities to Learn for English Language Learners

This qualitative case study grounded in Stevens (1993) Opportunity to Learn theoretical framework and a Cultural Proficiency lens provided the structure to analyze teacher values and behaviors as well as institutional factors affecting English Language Learner (ELL) access to enrichment Opportunities to Learn (OTLs). Teachers were purposefully selected from two schools within the same district in a suburb of southern California to participate in semi-structured interviews. Identified patterns in data indicated an opportunity gap for low-performing English Language Learners in District X. School practices for enrollment in intervention and enrichment programs were based on assessment data and teacher perceptions of academic achievement. English Language Learner academic achievement continues to fall below expectations due to deficit views. Teacher perceptions of academic achievement informed the instructional programs, practices, and strategies used to support English Language Learner instruction. These views result in low expectations and segregation practices produce limited access to engaging and rigorous Opportunities to Learn. School site teachers and leaders need professional development focused on cultural proficiency and culturally responsive teaching to change current attitudes and perceptions of English Language Learner students and families. In addition, the integration of school-wide enrichment strategies has the potential to foster academic achievement for not only English Language Learners, but all students.

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