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Abstract

English language learners (ELs) numbers are increasing steadily in classrooms across the United States. Some southeastern states have seen more than a 200% EL student increase in recent years (Migration Policy Institute, 2010). Since the inception of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and especially since Title I “flexibility” revisions, responsibility for educating ELs has shifted from ESOL and bilingual teachers to primarily mainstream teachers. States that have opted out of NCLB under flexibility revisions are no longer as accountable to the U. S. Department of Education for the education of ELs. States and school districts are no longer required to include some EL test scores in accountability measures. Mainstream classroom teachers may no longer receive quality support from ESOL professionals in educating mainstreamed ELs. Are mainstream teachers prepared to educate ELs? This study examines the perceptions that mainstream classroom teachers have regarding their preparedness in serving the ELs in their classrooms. Findings indicated four emergent categories of mainstream teachers: 1) teachers who knew virtually nothing about serving ELs, 2) teachers who presumed they would send ELs out of their classroom for instruction and assessment, 3) teachers who sought instructional and assessment assistance, and 4) teachers who were familiar with best practices for teaching ELs. Mainstream teachers in this study who were being held accountable for EL student achievement overall lacked knowledge or had misconceptions about the strategies used to teach and assess ELs. Current policy shaping the education of ELs is unlikely to assure they receive an adequate education.

 

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