Date of Conferral

2016

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Amy White

Abstract

English Language Learners (ELLs) do not achieve sufficiently on standardized tests, as required by federal law. Fourth grade ELLs at a suburban elementary school in the Southern United States experienced similar problems in the failure rate on the state standardized test. Still, this school outperformed several of the schools in the same area of the county. In this sequential, explanatory study, teacher and administrator perceptions of school culture and its impact on the achievement of ELLs in a Southern elementary school were examined. Vygotskyâ??s cultural-historical theory provided the theoretical framework to ground this study, as culture within a school could influence student achievement. At the study site, 26 elementary teachers voluntarily responded to the electronic School Culture Survey during the quantitative phase. Analysis of these surveys yielded means, produced factor scores, and identified discrepant areas. Two administrators, five 4th grade teachers, and four ELL teachers were invited and were interviewed to collect and analyze data in the qualitative phase. The thematic coding of the data identified teacher collaboration, collaborative leadership and perceptions of school culture as deficient in the school. The subsequent project, a position paper based on the findings, informed school leadership of the results and potential benefits a regional examination of school culture could provide. Improving school culture can allow teachers and administrators to better serve an underachieving student population; an improved culture could consequently contribute to positive social change for these ELLs.

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