Date of Award

8-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Jason Berman

Second Supervisor

Jeanette Silvers

Abstract

By 2050, the United States will be a majority minority country (NCSE, 2008). There are 11.4 million Spanish-speaking, English-language learners (ELLs) in America’s public schools today, with many underperforming compared to their monolingual counterparts. While bilingual educational researchers have demonstrated higher student achievement gains over English-immersion models, bilingual education programs continue to be politically controversial. Identifying effective intervention strategies that use home language (Spanish) as the foundation to increase new language (English) skills is essential in closing this achievement gap. This quantitative, quasi-experimental, matched-pairs study examined the impact of the Helping Early Literacy with Practice Strategies (HELPS) intervention program for targeted, first-third graders in dual-language classrooms (N = 27). Students’ reading fluency change rates were measured using the AIMSweb (R-CBM in Spanish) assessment tool. Treatment-group students received a two-hour block of reading instruction, which included the Spanish HELPS intervention, in one-to-one tutorial sessions, three times a week, for ten minutes a session, using a “manualized” program guide. Reading rates were compared with a control school that received only the two-hour literacy block. The results showed that there was a statistically significant difference between the change in reading fluency, as measured by the increase in correct words read per minute (t = 3.08, df = 43: two-tail p = .004). This study demonstrated that HELPS is successful in closing the fluency gap for English-language learners. Further studies are needed to assess the impact of increased fluency rates on students’ self-confidence as well as the impact on other content area performance.

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