This quantitative study sought to disclose and describe differences in academic performance between English language learners (ELLs) and non-English language learners (non-ELLs) in grades sixth, seventh, and eighth during the two-year period of 2016 – 2018. A two-year period was utilized because of the two-year ELL accountability mark established by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015. The study used i-Ready diagnostic data, in both mathematics and reading, as the performance measures, and used ACCESS for ELLs (WIDA) tier scores (i.e., WIDA Tier A, WIDA Tier B, and WIDA Tier C) to identify the level of English language acquisition of the ELL students for use in making comparisons among ELL students with varying levels of English proficiency. The results indicated that WIDA Tier C (i.e., ELL students with the highest English language proficiency) students outperformed the ELL students in the other WIDA tiers (i.e., WIDA Tier A and WIDA Tier B), in both mathematics and reading. Moreover, while WIDA Tier A students had lower mean scale scores, they made the largest gains from administration to administration in both subjects. Additionally, the results obtained from a two-way ANOVA indicated that ELL students are making greater gains than non-ELL students over the two-year period, in mathematics and reading. The extant literature on second language acquisition asserts that it takes an ELL student longer than two years and up to seven years to acquire academic language proficiency (Collier, 1995; MacSwan & Pray, 2005; Hakuta, 2011; Kieffer & Park, 2016). The ANOVA results also indicated that high-SES ELL students showed a higher mean gain score, in both mathematics and reading, than low-SES ELL students. Non-ESE ELL students showed a larger mean gain score than ESE ELL students in both subjects as well. Furthermore, the results of the ancillary analysis (i.e., a hypothetical additional year) indicated that non-ELL students outperformed ELL students in both mathematics and reading suggesting that it is unlikely that one additional year would make a difference. The results of the study will aid the academic decision-making of the school district studied when determining the appropriate level of supports for ELL students in the different WIDA tiers or in the different stages of language acquisition. In addition, the results of the effects of socioeconomic status (SES) and of exceptional student education (ESE) in ELL students, should support the school district when planning interventions to help mitigate these factors. Lastly, the study provides further evidence that two years is not enough time for an ELL student to acquire academic language proficiency; and expecting this subgroup of the public-school population to do so, negatively affects the academic results of the students, schools, and school districts they attend.


If this is your thesis or dissertation, and want to learn how to access it or for more information about readership statistics, contact us at STARS@ucf.edu

Graduation Date





Johnson, Jerry


Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


College of Community Innovation and Education


Educational Leadership and Higher Education

Degree Program

Educational Leadership; Executive









Release Date

August 2019

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)