English language learner, ell, english as a second language, esl, response to intervention, rti, language proficiency, language deficit


Educators are attempting to eliminate the disproportionate representation of culturally and linguistically diverse students in special education through initiatives such as Response to Intervention (RtI). Prior to the implementation of such initiatives, existing research relevant to this population must be critically reviewed and expanded. A synthesis of the available literature can provide significant insight into the type of data necessary to make informed decisions involving English language learners (ELL) at Tier I of an RtI model. In forming the theoretical foundation for this research, cognitive deficits associated with language-based disabilities and principles of cognitive load theory were examined. The study is an investigation of the following research question: Is the effectiveness of the bilingual English as a Second Language (ESL) model significantly altered under certain conditions? The research question was addressed through testing moderator effects using hierarchical linear regression. Initial English proficiency and initial Spanish proficiency were examined as moderating variables of the relationship between ESL model type and Kindergarten academic achievement. Academic achievement was defined as student learning growth on the Florida Assessment for Reading Instruction (FAIR) and student outcome scores on the Comprehensive English Language Learning Assessment (CELLA) Listening/Speaking and Reading constructs. Results supported: a) the relationship between initial English proficiency and FAIR growth, CELLA Listening/Speaking, and CELLA Reading, b) the relationship between initial Spanish proficiency and FAIR growth and CELLA Listening/Speaking, c) the relationship between type of ESL model and FAIR growth, CELLA Listening/Speaking, and CELLA iii Reading, d) the additional effect of the interaction of initial Spanish language proficiency with ESL model type to alter FAIR learning growth over time, and e) the additional effect of the interaction of initial English language proficiency with ESL model type to alter CELLA Listening/Speaking scores. Overall, this research supports the hypothesis that initial language proficiency can significantly alter the effectiveness of a bilingual ESL model. Recommendations for future research in this area include longitudinal studies using a similar hierarchical regression design with moderators in order to contextualize positive student outcomes.


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Graduation Date





Sivo, Stephen


Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


College of Education and Human Performance

Degree Program









Release Date

May 2015

Length of Campus-only Access

3 years

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Education, Education -- Dissertations, Academic

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