Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Education

First Advisor

Kathy Escamilla

Second Advisor

Alison Boardman

Third Advisor

Lucinda Soltero-Gonzales

Fourth Advisor

Richard Kraft

Fifth Advisor

Karen Tracy

Abstract

The field of education, particularly at the primary level, is dominated by white, middle-class female educators. Consequently, a cultural mismatch between teachers and students in the United States can occur as the demographics of classrooms and communities continue to change. Exacerbating matters, only 3% of these teachers are fluent and able to teach in any second language. Juxtapose that with the number of emerging bilingual students in U.S. classrooms (10.5%, of which 73% are native-Spanish speakers) and the chances of these students' social and academic success seems dismal at best.

Therefore, the purpose of this concurrent mixed-methods study was to explore the ways in which teachers' perceptions of their emerging bilingual students are complicated by in-class and school-wide systems and structures. In this study I identified and examined these classroom and school-specific systems and structures and how they impacted emerging bilingual students' opportunities to learn.

Consistent with a concurrent mixed-methods approach, I collected and analyzed multiple forms of data during the 2013-14 school year. Primary sources of data for this study included student perception surveys, teacher interviews, classroom observational field notes of both typical and CSR instruction, and teachers' cultural competency ratings from the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI).

Findings from this study showed that teachers' perceptions of their emerging bilingual students academic capabilities were challenged by varying levels of administrative support, inconsistencies in school-wide behavior systems, limited classroom space, pressure from assessments (district and state), use of students native language for punitive purposes, lack of classroom management, low expectations (which yielded low efforts on the part of students), and little assistance from paraprofessionals. Conversely, participants used CSR and each other to support their emerging bilingual students. Findings also revealed that when controlling for differences between CSR and non-CSR teachers, more CSR teachers gained in intercultural competence than non-CSR teachers over the course of an academic year according to the IDI. Unfortunately, however, although reliance on each other and the implementation of CSR facilitated positive perceptions of emerging bilingual students academic capabilities, they were not enough to disrupt deficit-driven discourses directed toward emerging bilingual students in the classrooms at participating schools.