Date of Conferral







Pricilla Fischback


AbstractAn influx in Hispanic English language learners (ELLs) in Atlanta public schools has led to a broadening of the achievement gap between ELLs and native English speakers, causing higher failure rates and fewer career possibilities for Hispanic ELLs upon school completion. The purpose of this basic qualitative study was to investigate the kinds of strategies K through eighth grade teachers use to reduce this achievement gap, specifically in English and math. Vygotsky’s social learning theory guided this study, a key aspect of which is the role dialect and language play in determining a student’s development. The study focused on how social foundations (e.g., identity, language, culture, and class) shape ELL students’ learning processes from the teachers’ perspective. Purposeful sampling identified K through eighth grade teachers whose instructional strategies focused specifically on their personal scaffolding techniques. The findings indicated that participants frequently use language and culture scaffolding to help Hispanic ELL students in English and mathematics close/reduce the achievement gap. To achieve excellent academic standards, participants established diversified instruction and student modeling, promoted cultural diversity, collaborated with students, observed them, and ensured ongoing involvement. Participants also used gestures, images, translators or interpreters, student collaboration, and technology support to communicate with students who do not speak English well. To effect positive social change, participants identified a variety of resources, skills, knowledge, and professional assistance to improve the effectiveness of ELL teaching strategies in closing/reducing the achievement gaps for Hispanic ELLs in English and mathematics.