Masters Thesis

Student Study Teams and Their Role in Addressing Low-Performance of English Language Learners

For more than a decade, English Language Learners have performed below grade level in all areas tested for federal and state accountability, and drastically lower than their English-speaking peers. Closing the achievement gap has become a major priority in educational policy, however many English Language Learners across the state are still experiencing significant academic difficulties. When academic concerns are present, educators use Student Study Teams to assist in identifying the deficits and addressing them through strategic, targeted intervention. Although Student Study Teams are utilized and widely recognized as effective, English Language Learners continue to experience academic difficulties. Explored through a qualitative case study, the researcher examines Student Study Team documents, student report cards, and teacher interviews in an effort to answer the question: In what ways is the Student Study Team process effective at addressing low-performance English Language Learners? To provide context, a comprehensive lens is applied to the field of existing literature to determine the characteristics of effective Student Study Teams and Response to Intervention strategies, and how both relate to English Language Learners. Teacher interviews, report cards, and Student Study Team documents were coded using holistic, in vivo, and pattern coding methods. The data was equally-weighted, and triangulated in an effort to validate the findings. The study exposes a large amount of confusion regarding Student Study Teams and how they relate to English Language Learners. Consequently, many English Language Learners are overlooked for Student Study Teams and early intervention. The research reveals when academic difficulties are addressed early, through the use of explicit phonemic awareness and decoding, the success of English Language Learners is greatly improved. This study can further research on how the Student Study Team process can effectively address low-performance of English Language Learners.

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