Date of Award

2001

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Degree Program

Educational Leadership with a Gloabl Perspective

Department

College of Education

First Advisor

Cheryl Serrano

Second Advisor

William Leary

Third Advisor

Maria Ligas

Abstract

The education of persons with limited English proficiency is and has been the concern of American educators, policymakers and the courts for the past three decades. The rising concern is exacerbated as the number of these students entering American schools is sharply increasing. One question of paramount importance in the realm of educational programming for limited English proficient (LEP) students is participation in large-scale assessment programs, especially in states where high-stakes testing programs determine receipt of a standard high school diploma. LEP student participation includes consideration of special testing conditions, enabling them to be assessed on an equal plane with other standard curriculum students without a heritage language limitation.

The research question addressed by this study was to determine if the year 2000 reported scores of Grade 10 LEP students on the Reading section of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT), administered with accommodations as prescribed in the published administration manual, were equal to or significantly different from the scores reported for other standard curriculum students, for whom the FCAT was administered without accommodations. Study samples included 100 non- LEP standard curriculum students and 100 LEP standard curriculum students. The LEP student group consisted of students receiving English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) services for more than two years and currently enrolled in ESOL classes designed to meet their linguistic needs. As the subject district classifies LEP students according to demonstrated language abilities, to control for the level of English language development, only students classified in the highest two levels were included in this study.

Study findings indicate that there was a significant difference between the mean scale scores of the two groups of students. Reviewing the data, the results further indicate that use of the specified test administration accommodations is not adequately addressing the needs of this special population in the realm of equal opportunity, that is the removal of performance barriers, in the mandated state assessment process. The question arises, therefore, as to whether or not the test results as reported indicate a student's accurate ability or if the English language limitation is posing a true barrier to performance as determined by the selected assessment tool.

Accommodations are vehicles designed for the expressed purpose of enabling students to access in English an opportunity to demonstrate mastery of specified skills. It is intended that this research study will both add to the existing body of knowledge of the assessment of LEP students and serve as a factor to consider in the ongoing development of performance evaluation at all levels in the American education system. As accurate and appropriate assessment of limited English proficient students is indeed complex, this researcher recommends additional research in the area of related language minority student literacy issues, cultural influences, as well as assessment format and presentation elements, and the implementation of alternative assessment methodologies for high-stakes evaluation. Further research in this area might improve the quality of assessment for all students.

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