Dissertation

Bridging the opportunity gap through dual language education

This qualitative research study focused on the Hollister Dual Language Academy, a small school that implemented a 50:50 English/Spanish dual language model. It was recently awarded the California Distinguished School Honor in 2012 for its commitment to narrowing the achievement gap and providing a unique opportunity for it students. This study incorporated three in-depth interviews from teachers, a focus group interview of seven students, and 15 questionnaires from parents. All participants in the study, including the researcher, who was also the principal, were part of the inaugural group that began the school in 2007. This study identified contributing factors that led to high academic achievement of all learners, including English learners, as perceived by the students, parents, and teachers and how these factors helped to bridge the “opportunity gap.” Evidence provided by this study through qualitative data demonstrated how this school narrowed the educational opportunity gap by providing students an environment where they learn to speak, read, and write in two languages and have multicultural opportunities to learn about the people and world around them. The study emphasized the major themes from the teacher interviews, student focus groups, and parent questionnaires that specifically focused on the opportunities that led to increased student achievement. Implications on how this study can help other schools and districts to provide optimal educational opportunities, especially a dual language program, are discussed. Further areas for future research were also presented.

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