Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Theresa McDowell


There is a disparity of mathematics achievement between native English speakers and English language learners (ELL). This study sought to understand the barriers ELL kindergarten students faced in being successful in mathematics. The purpose of this qualitative, instrumental case study was to explore kindergarten teachers' perceptions regarding English language learner's access to the mathematics curriculum and instruction. The conceptual foundation for this study drew from social development theory, which contends social interaction using language is necessary for cognitive development such as learning mathematics concepts. Individual interviews of 8 kindergarten teachers were conducted to understand kindergarten teachers' perceptions of the barriers ELLs face in accessing the math curriculum. The interviews were recorded, transcribed, and categorized using typological analysis. Answers to the interview questions were segregated into the categories of professional development, needs of students, and base mathematics program materials. The central finding was that the base program was perceived as a barrier for ELLs. Evaluation of the existing mathematics curriculum for effectiveness is recommended. This study may contribute to social change by increasing educator and stakeholder awareness of the barriers ELLs face in accessing the mathematics curriculum. This study also provides guidance to policymakers and educators information to develop culturally competent mathematics instruction, thereby assisting ELL students in overcoming barriers to learning mathematics.