Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Amy E. White


A large school district in the northeastern United States struggled with teaching middle school English Language Learners (ELLs) to succeed in reading and writing. The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate teachers' perceptions regarding what they could do to increase academic achievement for ELLs. The conceptual framework emerged from Weimer's learning-centered teaching, which aligns with Dewey's social constructivism. Ten purposefully sampled teachers agreed to be interviewed in the attempt to answer the research questions about instructional strategies teachers believed were best to deliver culturally and linguistically appropriate instruction for ELLs and what teachers believed could be done to improve ELLs' classroom engagement and motivation for increased academic achievement. Analysis and open, thematic coding of semi-structured interviews, classroom observations, and teachers' lesson plans were used to create seven themes, including differentiated instruction, background knowledge, challenges and difficulties, home-school connection, technology for diverse learners, administration and faculty collaboration, and professional development. Findings included participants' desire for meaningful professional development where differentiated instruction is modeled to address the cultural and linguistic needs of ELLs. The project was created to deliver this training for all teachers at the site, focusing on culturally and linguistically differentiated instruction, sheltered instruction, and collaborative learning. The findings and project may promote positive social change by improving instruction for culturally and linguistically diverse learners at the local site and similar school districts. Higher academic achievement would provide better opportunities for ELL students.