Spanish for native speakers, hispanic ell students, hispanic academic achievement, hispanic ell students in high school, cummins' linguistic interdependence concept, bilingualism, heritage languages, high school immigrant students


Using data on all Hispanic high school students in Central and Southern Florida, this study examines Cummins’ Linguistic Interdependence concept by studying how the availability and English Language Learners (ELL) student participation in Spanish for Native Speakers (SNS) programs in Florida high schools is associated with Hispanic academic achievement. The availability of SNS programs was studied using data provided by the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) on all high schools in Florida for 2009-2010. The study used individual level data on all Hispanic ELL students in Central and Southeast counties who attended 12th grade during each year from 2006/2007 through 2009/2010, and then tracked the students’ entire high school experience from 9th to 12th grade. Student Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) scores were used as the dependent variable. Testing for differences in means and linear and logistic regression analysis were used to examine these questions. The results showed that SNS tend to be offered in large high schools, with a large Hispanic student and teacher population, which have lower average FCAT scores, and are located in counties that tend to vote Democratic. The results found indicate that student participation in SNS program does not affect students’ overall FCAT scores. However, students who participate in SNS courses tend to perform better in Math FCAT, but not in Reading FCAT, when compared to their peers of similar Hispanic background that did not participate in SNS courses. The results supported Cummins’ Linguistic Interdependence concept, as First Language (L1) maintenance may promote academic achievement, depending on the academic subject. The most important attribute of these results was the association found between L1 maintenance and academic skills in Math. The study argues for the possibility of cognitive development occurring at deeper levels due to L1 maintenance, and expressed through abstract and logical thought such as Mathematical iv proficiency. Future studies may benefit by approaching this subject in a longitudinal manner and examine how student participation in SNS is associated with educational attainment, including high school graduation, college enrollment and graduation, job prospects and social mobility. The results also suggest that there is a higher probability that SNS curriculum is offered in high schools located in counties that tend to vote Democratic, indicating that location is intrinsically dependent on stakeholders’ political views on the education of minority students. Therefore, future studies may examine stakeholders’ involvement in the decision making process of curriculum at the county, school, and classroom level, in order to find out what are the driving forces making possible or not the availability of SNS curriculum in the state of Florida.


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Graduation Date





Boyd, Tammy


Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


College of Education and Human Performance


Dean's Office, Education

Degree Program









Release Date

May 2013

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


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

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