Date of Award

2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Education

Abstract

This study utilized data gleaned from on-line surveys of primary level teachers and elementary school principals to understand what principals need to know and be able to do to support teachers in their instruction of reading for English Language Learners (ELLs). A review of five areas of literature provided a theoretical foundation for this study. Twenty-six primary level teachers and four elementary school principals, from eight Massachusetts schools, participated in separate, three-part online questionnaires. Participants answered questions about licensure, experience, and professional development focused on teaching English Language Learners. In addition, participants responded to questions about their perceptions of (1) the elementary school principal‘s role in supporting teachers of ELLs learn to read in English, and (2) the leadership characteristics of principals in relationship to their work with teachers of ELLs. Teacher perceptions of principals are considered critically significant, since teachers have a day-to-day view of principals (Marzano, Waters and McNulty, 2005). At the onset of the study, the null hypothesis assumed by the researcher was that the perceptions of teachers and principals would be the same. The survey research design used a mixed-method approach, which included both quantitative and qualitative data analyses: the former using t-test measures; the latter examining statements made by participants. Results from the 39 questionnaire statements revealed that a statistically significant number of participants accepted the null hypothesis, and that a statistically insignificant number of participants rejected the null hypothesis. After the analyses were completed, the null hypothesis was rejected for twenty-two statements. The results led to the conclusion that teachers and principals do not agree on what elementary school principals understand and practice in support of teachers working with ELLs. One of the most critical conclusions is the lack of a shared, researched-based belief system about serving the learning needs of ELLs. Without a common belief system between a principal and teachers, it is difficult to meet the needs of ELL students. Even though principals and teachers did not agree in every area, the questionnaires provided rich data about what a principal needs to know and be able to do in order to better support teachers in their instruction of reading for English Language Learners. The study points to important implications for elementary school principals‘ practice in supporting their work with teachers of English Language Learners: (1) gain key understandings about effective English Language Learning and reading instructional practices through effective professional development; (2) seek out and reflect on data about current performance from teachers; (3) develop and /or strengthen leadership characteristics in relationship to the instruction of ELLs; (4) demonstrate a commitment to working with English Language Learners by adhering to a shared, researched-based belief system about instructing ELLs; and (5) implement a continuous improvement plan to address teachers‘ professional development needs in teaching reading in a second language.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Language

English

Number of Pages

242

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