The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship of school district policy, guidelines, and practices related to the enrollment and achievement of English learners (EL) in advanced coursework in middle school and high school in a large urban school district in the United States. There is a dearth of research on the effect that school district-level policies, guidelines, and practices have on the enrollment and achievement of ELs in advanced courses in middle school and high school. Existing research on ELs provides information on this group's academic achievement on national and state standardized measurements of achievement (Walqui & Pease-Alvarez, 2012) such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, and other state standardized assessments in the United States. However, there is an absence of research concerning this group's achievement in advanced courses at the middle school and high school levels. Moreover, there is also an absence of research on this group's achievement on college-level examinations (e.g., Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate). This study contributed to the body of knowledge on the impact of educational policy, guidelines, and recommended practices on student acceleration, specifically the acceleration of ELs through their enrollment and achievement in advanced coursework at the middle school and high school level in the United States. The analysis of this group's enrollment and achievement consisted of (1) an examination of the group's enrollment from 2009-2014 in advanced coursework in grades 6-12, (2) an analysis of this group's achievement in advanced coursework from 2009-2014 in grades 6-12, and (3) an examination of school district policy via school district policy and guideline documents and school-based curriculum guides. Initial findings from the analysis completed point to an uneven EL course enrollment in advanced coursework in mathematics, English, science, and social studies across the 57 schools included within the study from 2009-2014. At the high school level, EL course enrollment in advanced coursework is small; the high school with the highest proportion of EL course enrollment had 9.7 percent EL course enrollment. Overall, EL course enrollment comprised 4.5 percent of advanced course enrollment in 19 high schools. At the middle school level, however, EL advanced course enrollment was proportionately larger; the middle school with the highest proportion of EL course enrollment had 25.3 percent EL advanced course enrollment. Overall, EL course enrollment comprised 7.0 percent of advanced coursework course enrollment in 38 middle schools. In terms of Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) EL course enrollment, AP EL course enrollment was 3.0 percent from 2011-2014 and IB EL course enrollment was 0.2 percent from 2012-2014. EL achievement in advanced coursework as measured by final letter grade in advanced courses was high; EL high school achievement by final letter grade achievement of A, B, or C was 85 percent and EL middle school achievement by final letter grade of A, B, or C was 91 percent in advanced courses. In Advanced Placement exam scores, EL score of 3 or higher was 54 percent, while non-EL score of 3 or higher was 47 percent. In IB, EL score of 4 or higher was 71 percent, while non-EL score of 4 or higher was 81 percent. Analysis of school district policy and guideline documents and school curriculum guides emphasized the central role of the school district in ensuring that schools followed national and state laws applicable to ELs in the United States. The school district policy and guideline documents analyzed guaranteed ELs' equal access to academic programs within the school district but only made one specific reference to enrollment of ELs in advanced coursework in the form of Advanced Placement. School curriculum guides analyzed demonstrated elements of access to advanced coursework for ELs. The curriculum guides analyzed contained varying degrees of identified access elements, demonstrating schools' autonomy in determining the academic trajectories of their students within the parameters of applicable national and state laws.
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
College of Education and Human Performance
Teaching, Learning and Leadership
Educational Leadership; Executive Track
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Ceballos, Marjorie, "An Analysis of School-District Level Policy and Guidelines Related to English Language Learners' Enrollment and Achievement in Advanced Courses" (2016). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 5053.