Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Jennifer Brown


The number of English Language Learners (ELLs) entering content area general education classes is on the rise and there is a lack of understanding concerning what content area teachers are doing to provide instruction to ELLs. ELLs throughout a southeastern state are making very little progress despite the resources put in place by the district. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore the instructional practices and perceptions of 5 middle school content area teachers, who educate ELLs in general education classes. Differentiation, as defined by Tomlinson and the World-class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA,) frameworks were combined to create the framework of this study. The research questions addressed how middle grades teachers use WIDA standards and practices in content area classes when differentiating and scaffolding lessons for ELLs in a rural school in a southeastern state. A total of 5 participants volunteered to participate in an open-ended questionnaire, interviews, and observations of classroom teaching methods. The data were analyzed and coded to find emerging themes. The findings of this case study suggested that teachers used differentiation, but that it was not directed by the WIDA standards. The findings also suggested a need for professional development to help the teachers better understand how to use the WIDA Can Do Descriptors to provide differentiated and scaffolded lessons for ELLs. As a result of the findings, a 3-day professional development was created with the implementation of a professional learning community to support content area teachers of ELLs. This study supports positive social change by providing an avenue that will ensure equity in instruction for ELLs and all stakeholders.