It is a fact beyond doubt that minority students in the United States of America are underperforming as compared to their majority White counterparts. A report released by the country’s Department of Education in June 2003 (and cited in Webley, 2011) indicated that these minority students are still performing poorly just like in the early 1990s. This is as compared to White students whose academic achievement improved a great deal since the 1990s.
Hispanic students are learners from a minority group who have continued to perform poorly in school. It is noted that public schools in the United States are facing a problem with an increase in minority non-English-speaking students. According to Webley (2011), the 2010 population census indicated that there are about four million Hispanic students enrolled in American public schools. It is noted that English is not the first language for a large number of these students.
Teachers and administrators need to know how to teach and accommodate these students. One way to achieve this is to adapt pedagogy and curriculum to the needs of these students. According to Davis (2007) “many methods of adapting pedagogy and curriculum can help students learn about multicultural democracy and develop more positive racial identities” (p. 211). This would include changing the curriculum for students to learn about other cultures. To this end, teachers, and administrators can adapt what Slavin (2006) referred to as equity pedagogy. According to Slavin (2006) equity pedagogy can be conceptualized as the use of teaching techniques that promote the academic performance of learners from different ethnic and social backgrounds.
There are several challenges faced in the implementation of equity pedagogy to address the needs of non- English-speaking Hispanic students in the United States of America. This is, for example, teachers not knowing the different equity pedagogy techniques and not properly trained to teach students who cannot speak English. This could lead to a breakdown of communication between the student and the teacher negatively affecting the capabilities of the student.
Mentze (2010) is of the view that accommodating ELL is a legal requirement in this country. Teachers cannot demand the exclusive use of English in their classroom, neither can they deny the use of or belittle the learners’ home language and culture. Instructors should be well-versed in the TEKS and the law regarding ELLs (Mentze, 2010).
The purpose of this dissertation is to explore the possible challenges facing teachers at the middle school level as far as educating non-English-speaking Hispanic students is concerned. The topic for this dissertation is pedagogy equity and educating non-English-speaking Hispanic Students on the Middle School Level. The study will use Port Arthur Independent School District as its case study.
Qualitative Problem Statement
Teachers and administrators lack training and awareness in multicultural education. This has affected negatively the implementation of equity pedagogy in most public schools in the United States of America. As a result of this, students from minority groups lack the opportunity to learn and improve themselves. As a result of this, there is a need to analyze how pedagogy equity can be effectively used by stakeholders to improve the learning outcomes of non- English- speaking Hispanic students.
According to Slavin (2006), multicultural education is a process that calls for the participation of the administrators, the teachers, and other stakeholders in the education system. The initial step in multicultural education is for the stakeholders to learn about the cultural background of their learners. From this, the stakeholders can understand their learners better. They will examine the policies, practices, and curriculum adopted in their particular school to identify and develop any possible bias (Slavin, 2006).
Multiculturalism not only targets ethnicity but also gender, religion, disability, and economic backgrounds. Eteokleous and Christodoulou (2010) underscored this point by arguing that differentiated teaching should go beyond cultural diversity. This is given that there are other forms of diversities within the individual and within the community as a whole.
Cultural diversity is increasing in society. This diversity is reflected in our schools. In the 1970s Hispanic learners accounted for less than 2% of the total student population in the country. Today, they account for about 21% of the total population. In the whole country, members of the Hispanic community account for about 16% of the total population (Webley, 2011). This is a significant number by any standards.
With the increasing cultural differences, society acknowledges that changes in the educational system are inevitable. With the population of minority students in public schools rising, the curriculum should change to reflect this and cater to their educational needs. For example, the Texas bilingual program had an increase of 448, 917 students in the 2008-09 school years. This translates into an 84% increase from the 1992-2006 school years.
Multiculturalism has brought with it many challenges as far as the teachings in class are concerned. The challenges arise from microcultural values that represent the different races in the classes and macrocultural values that are the teacher’s understandings of the students’ backgrounds (Mushi, 2004: p. 49). As far as microcultural values are concerned, it is noted that every student has learning needs different from those of students from other cultural backgrounds. In the case of macro cultural values, the teachers find it hard to understand the individual needs of students from different cultural backgrounds.
This qualitative study will explore the lack of teachers’ training to deal with Hispanic bilingual students and how this affects equity pedagogy. Teachers’ ability to understand students from different ethnic socio-economic backgrounds is very important. This understanding goes a long way in improving equity pedagogy and educating non- English- speaking Hispanic students.
The results of this study could inform stakeholders about possible gaps in training for teachers and administrators in equity pedagogy. The results could also inform stakeholders on how to revise the existing curriculum within the district to cater to this.
Port Arthur Independent School District (herein referred to as PAISD) started in 1897 in a one-room residence with a dozen students attending. Port Arthur school started off as a private school charging the parent’s tuition fees. In 1898 two other rooms were added because of the population increase. In 1899, the district, better known as Common School District No. 14 had 160 White students and one African American student. The school district adopted the name Port Arthur Independent School District on August 24, 1899. Over the years, the population of White and African American students grew and the school district provided accommodations. In 1915 the school district changed because of House Bill No. 470, which was approved by the Governor to enlarge the district. The district added eight schools to accommodate students.
Between 1993 and 1994, the PAISD student population had increased to 11, 837 with a total of 2,655 Whites, 6,627 African American, 1,462 Hispanic, and 1,093 recognized as others. In the 2009-10 school year, PAISD housed 9,047 students with an increase of 48.3% African American, 42.2% Hispanic, and 3.6% White students. The school district had 806 more Hispanic students participating in the Bilingual program with 9.7 Hispanic teachers in the district.
According to Gallo (2008), many educators that there is a lack of support as far as bilingual education training, district communications, and school site administration are concerned. The major obstacles in public schools concerning the development of students’ learning include students not understanding the language, not knowing how to write are interpreting the language taught, and not understanding the different cultures introduced. PAISD has students who do not speak the English language and need more help to understand the language. However, PAISD teachers lack the skills required to teach non- English-speaking students.
With many non- English- speaking students entering the public school system, researchers, and scholars suggest that teachers should understand not only the student but also the student’s background, community, religion, and economic backgrounds.
Apart from training the teachers, there are other strategies that can be adopted to improve equity pedagogy. For example, the school administration can involve communities in the school such that people from different cultures and backgrounds can share their experiences. The positive effects of this will trickle down to the students.
Today, the Port Arthur Independent school district has a total of 22 schools. This is a significant number by any standards. It becomes important to analyze the issue of equity pedagogy and teaching of non- English- speaking Hispanic students in the district. This study will go a long way in addressing this issue.
Qualitative Purpose Statement
The purpose of this case study is to explore the challenges that accompany equity pedagogy in the classroom in Southeast Texas. As already indicated in this paper, there are many non- English-speaking Hispanic students in this school district. It is important to analyze how equity pedagogy addresses the needs of these students and the challenges faced in implementing the strategy. This is with a special focus on training challenges in the context of teachers and equity pedagogy in this district.
The focus will be on the perceptions of the students, administrators, and teachers regarding equity pedagogy and education of non- English-speaking Hispanic students. This is given as it has already been indicated in this paper Port Arthur schools have Hispanic students who cannot speak English at the secondary level.
Qualitative Research Questions/Hypotheses
- RQ#1 – How do teachers, school administrators, and students in Port Arthur District’s public schools perceive multiculturalism in the classroom?
- RQ #2 – How do Port Arthur School District’s teachers, administrators, and administrators perceive the challenges of teaching non-English-speaking students?
- RQ #3 – How can the challenges facing equity pedagogy in the Port Arthur School district’s public schools be addressed?
Significance of the Study
It is a well-documented fact that non- English-speaking Hispanic students face many challenges concerning academic performance in the United States of America. However, scholars have conducted few studies on equity pedagogy and non- English-speaking Hispanic students. This is especially so when it comes to the training challenges faced by teachers when trying to implement this pedagogy. There is a gap in the knowledge that exists in this field regarding this topic in Port Arthur School District. This study addresses this gap.
The results of this study may be used to inform practice when it comes to teacher training, professional development, and classroom curriculum. This is in Port Arthur District and other school districts in the country in extension. Further significance of this study can be derived from Davis (2007) when he argues that teaching controversial issues is beneficial to the students. This is given the fact that it opens their eyes to new perspectives on race and culture to which they have not been exposed in the past. Awareness of cultural diversity may help Port Arthur Independent School District learn how to communicate with other cultures. This will give individuals a broader outlook on what other cultures can bring to the school district and the community.
This study will fill the gap that exists when it comes to understanding different ethnic groups and their performance in education both in PASD and in the whole country in extension. Furthermore, the results of the study could be used to help teachers prepare students to deal with diversity in the learning environment. The results will also help other researchers who may have an interest in the effect of multiculturalism in American schools.
School administrators have been known to face challenges when it comes to dealing with cultural diversity in their institutions. They find it hard to implement a curriculum that caters to the needs of students from various socio-economic backgrounds. This challenge is faced by school administrators at Port Arthur and other school districts in the country. The study will go a long way in helping these administrators overcome these challenges. This is by providing them with information that will help them formulate effective policies to address the issue. Such policies include training their teachers on equity pedagogy, helping students cope with cultural diversity among others.
The findings of the study will also help the school administration by providing them with information on how to engage the community inequity pedagogy. This will give the city and the Independent School District the ability to formulate policies that will effectively cater not only to non- English speaking Hispanic students but also to their families. The significance of this can be gleaned from Tupa and McFadden’s (2009) arguments. The two argue that a district’s attitude as far as academic performance is concerned begins with the district personnel. However, scholars recognize the significant role played by the family and the community in a student’s educational life. All parties share the responsibility for a student’s academic success.
The study will enhance collaboration between community leaders and the members of the communities. The leaders may learn how to listen and focus on cultural norms that include ethnic background, education, families, and even individuals’ personalities. Port Arthur leaders may learn to be more empathetic toward people of different ethnic backgrounds. This will make it possible for the city to provide education, jobs, and better communication with the people of the city.
Nature of the Study
The researcher will evaluate data from three middle schools using the Academic Excellence Indicator System provided by Texas Education Agency. The researcher will assess 10 students, six administrators, and 10 teachers from three middle schools in the Port Arthur independent school district.
The research will be conducted using online resources (articles), data gathered from the Port Arthur independent school district, interviews books. The data to be analyzed will provide information on the number of Hispanic students enrolled in the Bilingual/ESL program and the population of bilingual teachers in the district. The data will also provide information on why parents do not allow their children to participate in the bilingual program.
This study uses similar types of case studies to compare and contrast the bilingual programs models to the PAISD Early Exit Model whose goal is to place all ELL students in all English-speaking classes by the third grade but not focusing on the students entering a secondary level. The aim of this study is to examine the PAISD bilingual program taking into consideration the hiring of more bilingual teachers, training mainstream teachers with strategies to help their non-English-speaking students, and making sure Hispanic parents understand the importance of their children taking part in the bilingual program.
Primary data for the research will be collected using face-face interviews with teachers, students, and school administrators. The aim here is to collect qualitative data touching on the challenges faced in implementing equity pedagogy as far as educating non- English Hispanic students is concerned. Face–to–face interviews were preferred over other strategies such as questionnaires given the fact that the researcher will be able to gather more information given the ability to seek clarification from the respondents.
Secondary data will be collected from school records, online resources and books gathered from libraries. The aim here is to provide the researcher with background information regarding the issue.
The increase in the number of non- English speaking students resulted in many challenges on the part of both the learner and the school. The teachers and the students are not aware of and may not appreciate the cultural background and cultural values of each other. Teachers need to be trained on how to address cultural diversity and how to learn about their students’ backgrounds. They should also appreciate the individual needs of students from different cultural backgrounds. This is, for example, the need to learn English, the need to fit in with other students among others.
The following theoretical frameworks will inform this study:
Krashen’s Theory of Second Language Acquisition
In 2007, Krashen (as cited in Schultz, 2007) provided a theoretical framework that can be used to address this issue. This theoretical framework will be adopted for this study. According to Krashen’s Theory of Second Language Acquisition, there are five hypotheses:
- The Acquisition–Learning Hypothesis. This requires interaction with the target language. In the context of this study, the researcher will be interested in the interaction taking place between the target students and the English language. These are the non- English speaking Hispanic learners who are the target of this study and how they learn the language.
- The Monitor Hypothesis. This addresses the link between language acquisition and learning. It goes further to define the influence that learning has on language acquisition. Here, the researcher will be interested in how the student acquires and learns the English language and how their acquisition affects the learning.
- The Natural order hypothesis. This provides that the acquisition of grammatical structures progresses through a natural order that can be predicted. For example, it can be predicted that the learner may start learning the English language before understanding class instructions given in English.
- The Input hypothesis. This addresses the issue of how a learner acquires a second language. To this end, the researcher will analyze how non- English speaking Hispanic learners acquire the English language.
- The Affective Filter hypothesis. This suggests that a number of affective variables affect the process of acquiring a second language such as English for the target students in this study. The variables facilitate the learning process. However, Krashen indicates that the variables are not the cause of the learning. The effective variables, in this case, maybe the desire of the student to learn the English language, the support they receive from their teachers and their family members among others.
Erik Erikson’s Stages of Social Development
Erik Erikson provides eight stages of social development. The first stage (birth to 18 months) explains how a child depends solely on the mother either trusting or not trusting her because the mother is the sole provider. Erikson’s second stage (autonomy versus doubt, ages 18 months to three years) provides that the child at age two has developed enough language to communicate with others The third stage addresses a child within the age bracket of three and six years. These children are developing language skills and motor skills. Children at this stage will express themselves but parents should not punish them because of this. Pushing the child could cause a problem later in life causing the child to doubt themselves.
Stage four is the time when the presence and influence of the teachers and peers increase and that of parents decreases. The child starts looking at his or her ability and how he or she feels about them. There are, for example, positive and negative feelings that can determine the success of the student. Stage five (12 to 18 years) is the period when the child turns away from the parent and toward his or her peers. The sixth stage addresses intimacy versus isolation. This is young adulthood and sharing their lives with someone else is an important aspect of the individual. Stage seven discusses middle adulthood and guides the next generation. The last stage focuses on late adulthood and integrity versus despair. This stage is the period when individuals start looking at their lives and what they have accomplished in their lives (Slavin, 2006).
In the context of this study, the researcher will try to determine how the student’s social development stage affects their acquisition of the English language and how it affects their learning in general.
Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development
Piaget identifies four stages of cognitive development. A child in the sensorimotor stage is in the age group of zero years to two years. In this stage, the baby uses senses such as touch and motor skills. The second stage (pre-operational stage) is where the child uses their mind but lacks adequate knowledge to determine very simple things. This is for example cutting a sandwich in half. The child at this stage thinks that he or she has two sandwiches instead of one.
This is called the principle of conservation which develops at age two through seven. The next stage (age seven to 11) is called a concrete operational stage. During this stage, the child’s reasoning becomes logical and now they can understand conservation but only with familiar situations. The last stage (formal operation) occurs between 11years and adulthood. The children are entering puberty and their thinking changes.
Each stage has an age group and this explains the development of a child from birth. It also explains the different tasks the child can perform at each stage. In the context of this study, the researcher will try to determine how non- English speaking Hispanic students’ cognitive development affects their acquisition of the English language and learning in general.
The theoretical framework of the research study looks at the approach adopted in understanding people’s thoughts, habits, and even their emotions. This is because students learning a new language could experience frustrations, anger, and embarrassment. This is a complicated phenomenon for most stakeholders in the education sector. This is for example teachers, administrators, and city leaders.
Given the rising number of ethnic groups in our society, the theoretical framework will help the city and the school district in exploring and coming up with ways to approach and solve problems in the community. The important issues to explore here include communication between cultures, attitudes, and cultural beliefs. This will be achieved in this research by interviewing individuals on non- English speaking Hispanic students in the public schools and the effects of this on students, teachers, and administrators.
According to Vural and Gomleksiz (2010), “if the value systems in a school can be formed as a lifestyle, by taking democracy and human rights as a basis, it may be possible to make important contributions in assisting students to gain democratic attitudes and behaviors with the help of a hidden curriculum” (p. 220).
This will help the community and the school to understand better each other’s ethnic backgrounds. In extension, this will help the non-English-speaking students.
Definition of Terms
There are various terms used in this study. It is noted that the meaning of these terms as used in this study may differ from their normal or everyday meaning. In this section, the researcher is going to provide a definition of such terms. The definition given here is the meaning of that particular word within the context of this study. The definition may be different from the normal usage of the term on a daily basis.
- Academic Indicator System – pulls together a wide range of information on the performance of students in each school and district in Texas every year (Texas Education Agency, 2010).
- Bilingual education – Instructional program for students who speak little or no English in which some instruction is provided in the native language (Slavin, 2006).
- Differentiated teaching – creating multiple paths so that students with different abilities, interests, or learning needs experience equally appropriate ways to absorb, use, develop and present skills and knowledge as part of the daily learning process
- English Language Learners (ELL) – are terms used for the much smaller number of learners who have not yet attained an adequate level of English to succeed in an English – only program (Slavin, 2006).
- English as a second language (ESL) – subject taught in English classes and programs for students that are not native speakers of English (Slavin, 2006).
- Equity – the state or quality of being just, impartial, and fair (Slavin, 2006)
- Limited English proficient (LEP) – possessing limited mastery of English (Slavin, 2006).
- Monolingual – knowing or able to use one language
- Multicultural education – education that teaches the value of cultural diversity (Slavin, 2006).
- Multiculturalism – The belief that a society should respect and promote the various cultures or ethnic groups of which it is composed.
- National Education Association (NEA) – The oldest and largest teachers union (PAISD, 2010)
- Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) – prerequisite knowledge and skills in determining instructional goals and objectives (Tassell & Crocker, 2010)
Assumptions Made in the Study
There are various assumptions made in this study. It is noted that it is not possible to address each aspect of a given topic in one study. This being the case, it becomes hard to control all the variables present in a given study. To address this issue, the researcher assumes that the variables that cannot be controlled will remain constant and unchanged throughout the study. If the variables happen to change, it is assumed that the change will have minor or no effects on the outcomes of the study.
Here are the assumptions made in this study:
- It will be assumed that non- English speaking Hispanic students face challenges in learning the English language and other subjects in the school.
- It will also be assumed that the experiences of students at the three schools selected in Port Arthur School District are comparable to those of other schools in the district and in the whole country in extension.
- The researcher will assume that teachers play a very significant role in educating non- English speaking Hispanic students.
- The researcher will assume that apart from teachers, other stakeholders such as the student themselves, school administrators, and members of the community also play a significant role in educating non- English speaking Hispanic students.
- It will be assumed that equity pedagogy is an important policy adopted by schools in addressing the needs of non- English speaking Hispanic students.
- The researcher will further assume that stakeholders in the education sector are aware of the fact that non- English speaking students face challenges in learning English and other subjects in school.
Scope and Limitations of the Study
The scope of any given study is defined as the extent to which the study can go in addressing issues in a given field. It is noted that it is not possible to cover all issues surrounding a given topic in one single study. As a result of this, the researcher finds it important to set boundaries within which the study will be conducted. These delineated boundaries are what make the scope of the study.
It is also noted that the methodology of a given study is not able to address all aspects of the topic. The inability of the methodology to cover this is what is referred to as the limitations of the study.
The following are the limitations and scope of the study:
- The study will be limited to non- English speaking Hispanic students. This is despite the fact that English-speaking Hispanic students also face challenges in learning.
- The study will be limited to Hispanic students alone. Students from other minority groups such as Latino and African Americans will not be addressed despite the fact they also face challenges.
- The scope of the study will be limited to public schools in the school district. This is despite the fact that there are non- English speaking Hispanic students in private schools in the country and in the school district.
- The researcher will be limited to themselves to the Port Arthur school district. Other school districts in the state will not be addressed. This is despite the fact that the issue of equity pedagogy is not limited to this school district alone.
- The researcher will focus on non- English speaking Hispanic students in middle school. Students from elementary and other school grades will not be addressed despite the fact that non- English speaking students from these grades are also affected by equity pedagogy.
In this chapter, the researcher introduced the reader to the study that will be conducted in this paper. The researcher highlighted some of the issues that revolve around the study. The aim is to give the reader an idea of what the whole study is all about. Some of the issues highlighted include a problem statement, background information, purpose statement, research questions, and significance of the study, and nature of the study among others.
In chapter two, the researcher is going to critically review the literature that exists in this field. The aim is to locate the current study within the larger field of educating non- English speaking Hispanic students and equity pedagogy.
In chapter one, the researcher introduced the reader to the study by highlighting some areas that will be covered later on in the paper. Some of the highlights of chapter one included the objectives of the study, scope, and limitations as well as the theoretical framework. The aim was to give the reader an idea of what to expect from the rest of the paper.
In this chapter, the researcher will critically review the literature that exists in this field. It is noted that the findings of studies carried out in a given field are published in journals and articles which form the literature base in that field. It is important for a researcher to familiarize themselves with the literature that exists in their field of study before carrying out the new research. The critical review will help them identify agreements and disagreements among various scholars in the field. It also helps in identifying knowledge gaps in the field, gaps that the researcher may seek to address by the current study.
The critical literature review also helps in locating the current study within the larger field of non- English speaking Hispanic students in America by identifying its relationship to other studies carried in the field in the past. The critical literature review also helps in avoiding duplication of studies that have already been carried out in the field.
As previously indicated in chapter one above, the purpose of this study is to examine the teaching of non- English speaking Hispanic students in Port Arthur Independent School District in the context of equity pedagogy and multiculturalism. In this section, the researcher will critically review literature covering various topics in this field. The topics that the researcher will cover in this section include Texas legislation and how it relates to bilingual and multilingual education, Port Arthur Independent School District and bilingual programs, an analysis of the Lau vs. Nichols case in Texas among others. The Lau vs. Nichols case is important to this study as it will highlight some of the legal issues around bilingual and multilingual education in the context of equity curriculum in Texas and specifically in the Port Arthur Independent School District.
The researcher accessed the literature to be reviewed in this study systematically. They searched the school’s database using keywords. They also accessed some articles and books from the school library. The researcher also visited the local public library to search for articles to use in this literature review. Most of the articles used reported the findings of studies that have been conducted in the past while others expressed the professional opinions of the authors. The same applied to the books that were used.
Texas Legislation and Bilingual Education
Bilingual education is the form of education catering to students who have entered public schools in the United States of America but who do not speak English. This form of education provides the students with instructions to help them enter into the mainstream regular classes. The needs of the students in the classroom, the curriculum, the teaching and training taking place are periodically evaluated to determine progress. The evaluators of this system ask themselves this question: Is this the correct placement for the students that are non- English-speaking? Some feel that mainstreaming and learning English as soon as possible will benefit the students.
However, students in bilingual programs outperform the students in an English- only program (Krashen, 1999). Krashen’s (1999) sentiments are supported by Gallo and his colleagues when they try to explain the effectiveness of bilingual education to the student. According to Gallo (2008), “……..bilingual education is a process, one which educates students to be effective in a second language while maintaining and nurturing their first language” (p. 1).
How does Texas legislation regard bilingual education? In 1981 Texas legislation made provisions for bilingual education. The law stated that any school district that has 20 or more limited English proficient (herein referred to as LEP) students in the same grade are required to have a bilingual education system at the elementary level (Walsh et al., 2005). However, this requirement does not include students at the secondary level.
Port Arthur middle schools have non- English speaking students at the secondary level (middle and high school). This means that these students are not addressed in Texas State’s legislation regarding bilingual education. However, it is noted that teaching non- English speaking students in this school is possible even if it is not covered by the law. This is given the fact that teaching English language learners (herein referred to as ELL), limited English proficient, and English as a second language (herein referred to as ESL) students can be successful if the teacher is qualified and has the right materials to teach.
Mentze (2010) explained the pedagogical and professional responsibilities that a teacher should have in order to understand and provide his or her students with the best education. This will help entry-level teachers understand the procedures and laws in Texas public school’s system. This would still apply to secondary-level teachers even if the program is subject to the discretion of the district. Rocha (2008) discussed the different acts in the country which cater to bilingual education.
These acts are important as they inform the provision of bilingual education in Texas and in extension, in Port Arthur’s Independent School District. This is for example Secondary Education Act (herein referred to as ESEA) passed in 1965 which included bilingual education and the Bilingual Education Act of 1968 (BEA) which implemented different forms of bilingual education. Another program is the Structured English Immersion (SEI) which offers follow-up instructions to the students.
Factors Affecting Port Arthur Independent School District’s Bilingual Programs
Port Arthur Independent School District faces some challenges that may hinder the implementation of the bilingual program. If these challenges are not addressed, the quality of this education in the district may be affected negatively. Some of these challenges or factors are analyzed below:
Student to Teacher Ratio
The first factor is the student-to-teacher ratio. According to PAISD reports and Texas Academic Excellence Indicator System (AEIS), there are more Hispanic students in the district than teachers. According to the Texas Education Agency (2009-2010), the AEIS reported that Thomas Jefferson middle school services 414 Hispanic students with 2 Hispanic teachers with 153 LEP students participating in the bilingual program.
Wilson middle school has 143 Hispanic students with zero Hispanic teachers and 11 LEP students. Austin middle school has 221 Hispanic students with one Hispanic teacher and 16 LEP students in the program. The district as a whole has 1,293.3 teachers and only 56.8 Hispanic teachers which are 9.3% of the district staff. Table 2.1 shows the ethnic distribution between the three middle schools:
Table 2.1: Ethnic Distribution among Selected PAISD Middle Schools.
|Middle Schools Ethnic Distribution|
|Austin M.S.||Lincoln M.S.||Thomas Jefferson M.S.|
|Student Count||Percent||Student Count||Percent||Student Count||Percent|
|Limited English Proficient (LEP)||16||2.7||11||1.7||153||19.8|
|Total No. of Teachers|
Student to teacher ratio is significant when it comes to the quality of bilingual education offered. This is given the fact that a large student-to-teacher ratio overwhelms the teachers and reduces the quality of education offered in the school. It is important to train and recruit more teachers in these programs to address this problem.
The second factor or challenge affecting bilingual education programs in the district is program participation. There are middle school students that are not in the bilingual program because their parents have denied them the chance to participate. This is made evident for example when one takes into consideration the number of non-English speaking Hispanic students enrolled in public schools in a given district and the number who are enrolled in the bilingual programs. One will note that the enrolment is not 100% in spite of the fact that it is necessary for the students to be enrolled in these programs (Batalova & McHugh, 2010).
Scholars such as Davis (2007) suggest that enrollment in such programs is below 60% in public schools (p. 33). These students are LEP at the middle school level. This is significant given that these students stand to benefit from the bilingual program but are left out. The parents are concerned that if they participate in the bilingual program, their culture will be negatively affected. This can be addressed by creating awareness among the parents on the benefits of bilingual programs on the students. The school district should also endeavor to come up with programs that preserve the cultural diversity of the students to pacify the parents. The teachers should be trained on how to involve the various stakeholders in the program. These are stakeholders such as funders, parents among others.
This is another factor affecting the program in the district. Rossell (2010) explained that the cost of the bilingual program to the state of Texas is more than ELL alternative programs. This is considering the fact that the program can cost between $200 and $700 per student per year (Rossell, 2010: p. 11). This means that funding the program is an expensive affair.
Port Arthur ISD general fund for Bilingual/ESL education is $3,081,379 and the total required for each student is $338. This cost does not include teachers’ pay and teaching materials that the students will need. This is considering that the student will need the materials regardless of the program he or she is taking part in. The funds given to the schools in the district are enough to supply materials for 806 students only.
Availability of Materials
The fourth factor is material availability. It is important to assess whether the fund is actually supplying materials to each student within the program. As already indicated in this paper, the availability of materials may be affected by several factors. First, the school district may not have enough financial resources to purchase materials such as textbooks for the students. Second, sourcing the materials may not be a priority for the school (Batalova & McHugh, 2010). This is given the fact that the school may prioritize other programs such as NCLB meaning that little or no attention is paid to the bilingual program. This will negatively affect the quality of the education availed to the students.
The fifth factor is the involvement or participation of the parents in the program. This is an important factor in the Hispanic community. Involving the student’s parents will let the student and the parent(s) know that the district cares for them. Sheffer (2003) explained how parent involvement is important to the success of the student. The scholar is of the view that most bilingual students’ parents are not aware of what the bilingual program is all about.
In order to determine their knowledge, a survey was carried out to find out how many parents understand the program entirely. Acknowledging this fact the teachers concurred that there was a gap in communication between the various stakeholders and that some of the parents did not get involved because of immigration problems. Some parents on the other hand did not participate simply because they did not know or understand the program. Alienating the parents will affect the quality of the bilingual program given that the students will not receive the crucial support needed from the parents.
The sixth factor is poverty and how poverty affects the student’s learning ability. Poverty is characterized by reduced lunch and free lunch programs. Students that qualify for the program are identified using their parent’s level of income. Texas Education Agency (TEA) stated:
“One of the six eligibility criteria for public prekindergarten services is that the child is educationally disadvantaged. The term, “educationally disadvantaged, “ means eligible to participate in the national free or reduced-price lunch program established under 42 U.S.C. Section 1751 et seq.” (p. 1).
Poverty can affect the performance of the non- English speaking student and English speaking students in more than one way. For example, a hungry student will not be able to concentrate in class. Payne (2005) stated, “Immigrant children are twice as likely to be poor as native-born children” (p. 4).
Use of Language
The last factor affecting bilingual programs is language use. The student should be able to use his or her native language as well as English to understand the meaning of words that will help incomprehension. Hasson (2000) discussed how language in different generations evolves throughout the immigrant families. The scholar provides an intergenerational model that explains generation language dominance. In the first generation, the language is usually monolingual based on their home language. In the second generation, the individual is a bilingual who uses both the home language and the language used by the people around them (Davis, 2007). In the third generation, the individual is a monolingual who uses their native language. The latter is the dominant language (Payne, 2005).
The parents notice that the children are gravitating more towards the English language and they fear the loss of their native language. With parents fearing that the children will lose their native language, they discourage them from taking part in the program. PAISD has 3,820 Hispanic students in the district which is 42.2% of the student population. Only 806 (8.9%) Hispanic students participate in the bilingual program. This is vividly illustrated in Table 2.2 below:
|Table 2.2 |
Middle School LEP Denial Accountability
|School||Grade 6||Grade 7||Grade 8|
Theorists and Student Learning
Krashen and Other Theorists
There are several theories explaining the learning of the second language among the students. Some of these theories were briefly highlighted in chapter one’s theoretical framework. The researcher will explain some of these theories in detail in this section.
Krashen’s (1999) Theory of Second Language Acquisition has two independent systems of second language performance. These are the acquired system and the learned system. The acquired or acquisition system is the product of a subconscious process very similar to the process children undergo when they acquire their first language (Schultz, 2007).
Broom (2011) examined the effects of comprehension in the bilingual education system. The scholars discussed four issues that affect bilingual outcomes and which can affect the benefits of this program in our schools. These areas are analyzed below:
- The first issue is the form of instructions offered to the students. The scholars theorized that the instructions may or may not include the student’s native language. This may negatively affect the comprehension of the student as far as the second language is concerned especially if they are not conversant with the English language.
- The second issue is classroom differences. To this end, the scholars theorize that the students may be ignored in their classroom setting. It is noted that there are students from different socio-economic backgrounds in a given classroom in a public school. If one section of the students is ignored, then the quality of education they receive and their level of comprehension will be negatively affected.
- The third is the impact of instructions given. This will include the instructions given both in the native language and the English language.
- In some cases, the scholars note that there can be cultural resentment concerning the different languages being taught. This is another issue that affects comprehension as far as the second language is concerned. This means that if the students resent the language that is used to teach them, their comprehension will be negatively affected by this negative attitude.
Egan’s 1997 Imaginative Education (IE) theory “……..….informs (on) how we understand second-language learning with implications for classroom practice” (Broom, 2011, p. 98). Egan also includes the responsibility of the teacher and the classroom environment surrounding the student. This would include the type of relationship the teacher has developed with the student. This is explained using Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development. Vygotsky’s theory compared to Egan’s imaginative education (IE) helps the ESL student to understand by using levels that connect to real-life situations for the individual student (Holland, 2006).
Holland (2006) explained two things that can improve teaching diversity and the pedagogical factors that help with teaching students about different situations of different groups. The scholar provides an insight into the resentment that students may have towards the course content.
Annabelle’s Learning Wheel Model
The learning wheel model has been used extensively to inform and explain learning in a multicultural context. Such a background makes the model relevant for the current study. It is a perfect model to understand the issues revolving around teaching non-English speaking Hispanic students given that they are taught in a multicultural context.
According to Annabelle (1998), the learning wheel model represents five intelligences and helps teachers to plan lessons to cater to learners from different cultural backgrounds. It is to be noted that the model not only benefits learners of foreign descent; it also helps learners with the same cultural background. It helps students process learning in different modes referred to as intelligences (Annabelle, 1998). The wheel is designed to meet the individual differences of the learners.
The figure below represents the learning wheel as envisaged by Annabelle (1998)
According to Annabelle (1998), the learning wheel should be conceptualized as a practical and concrete tool for planning lessons in a multicultural setting. It is important as it helps the teachers to create lessons and units that cater to the needs of learners from varying cultural backgrounds.
Annabelle (1998) argued that the underlying assumption of the wheel is that “……..different cultures teach different modes of processing information to interact successfully with the environment” (p. 5). This is what the scholar refers to as bits of intelligence in the proposed model.
The wheel above together with the accompanying five bits of intelligence can be used by the teachers to construct a mind map. This is for instance brainstorming with other teachers to come up with a curriculum for non-English speaking Hispanic students. The figure below vividly illustrates how the wheel can be used to create a mind map:
The National Education Association and other Studies Conducted on Bilingual Education Programs
The National Education Association NEA provided guidelines on how to meet the needs of English Language Learners and improve their academic success (PAISD, 2010). In the article, the author discussed six states that have 60% English language learners. For example, Arizona, California, Texas, New York and Illinois and Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee had a 300 % increase in English language learners.
NEA highlighted how these students are being treated and the gap that is restricting the student’s achievement. According to the article, the students are receiving instructions that are different from those of other students in the school. The instructions received by these students may be poor considering the fact that the schools may not have prioritized bilingual education programs. This is significant to the current study given the fact that it is important to identify how different policies in different countries affect the achievement of the learners.
Batalova and McHugh (2010) provided charts and maps demonstrating that Spanish is the most widely spoken language in the English language learners’ home. This article showed the percentage of students’ home nations and those students who used English within their homes.
Rocha (2008) explained that Latino is the ethnic group that is increasing at a higher rate in the United States of America today. The scholar shows how this group of people will be the least educated in the country. The population is growing so fast that 8.5 million students from this group are part of our public school system. NCLB is making it know the inequities concerning minority students in the public school system.
The History of Bilingual Education Programs in Texas
The Texas Bilingual Education law was signed by Governor Dolph Brisco on June 3, 1973. The legislators called this law the Bilingual Education and Training Act (S. B. 121). This law mandated elementary public schools with 20 or more students with limited English to provide a bilingual program. Before the bill was passed by the Senate as Senate Bill 121, members of the community and educators had shown their support for improvements in the education of Hispanic children (Rodriguez, 2011).
Lau v. Nichols (1974)
This case is significant as contextualizes the legal issues surrounding the development of bilingual education programs in Texas. In 1974, Nichols enrolled Chinese students in all English classes but lacked proper instructions. The decision of the United States Supreme Court protected the bilingual program. Education Commissioner Terrel Bell introduced guidelines on August 11, 1975, for evaluating students with limited English skills.
This is in order to plan for appropriate bilingual and ESL education programs. The United States v. Texas and Lau v. Nichols cases were the major drivers behind the expansion of the bilingual and ESL programs (Rodriguez, 2011). Providers of bilingual education in PAISD (including teachers) should familiarize themselves with the legal issues surrounding these and other cases in order to provide quality education. In the process, the teachers will avoid legal pitfalls that may derail the implementation of the programs.
Hispanic Population in Port Arthur District
The current study is addressing the provision of education to non- English speaking Hispanic students in PAISD. This being the case, it is important to highlight the size of the population in this district as far as the Hispanic community is concerned.
According to the Census Bureau (2010), the population of the city of Port Arthur in Texas in 2000 was 57, 755. This decreased to 53, 818 in 2010. With the decrease in the population of the city, the Hispanic population increased from 17.45% in 2000 to 29.6% in 2010. Port Arthur Independent School District has a Hispanic population of 3,820 with 57 Hispanic teachers in the school district. The School district is characterized by cultural diversity. The mission of the school district acknowledges this fact as it reads: “The primary objective of public education in the community is to meet the unique educational needs of their diverse population” (PAISD, 2010). The number of Hispanic students at the district and state levels is high. See Table 2.3
|Table 2.3. Port Arthur Independent School District|
|Students By Ethnicity||Count||Percent||Count||Percent|
With the current rate of Hispanic population growth in Texas, it is projected that this ethnic group will be the largest within 50 years. This increase in the size of the Hispanic population will affect the education sector. It will affect teacher training and curriculum guidelines’ development. With this increase, the teachers in the country will need to learn Spanish or be bilingual for students to learn and comprehend lessons taught in the classroom. The curriculum will have to include Spanish material for the benefit of both the students and the teachers. This will not only be beneficial to the teacher and the student but also benefit the parents when helping the students at home.
Bilingual Education from an International Perspective
Other countries like India, China, and Singapore are incorporating English into their schools because of the high technology in the world today and the international trades. India has set up a bilingual program that involves the parents by sending materials home in both English and their native tongue. There are also parent questionnaires to gauge the literacy environment at home (Kalia, 2007). This will help the parents understand what their child is learning in school. The parents may also get the interest to learn English.
Dixon (2005) stated that “the Singapore government established a bilingual education policy. The prime minister of this new nation argued that it is only mastery of the English language will bring Singapore the international trade” (p. 27). Not only were the students required to learn English but there were also schools set up for the students called English-medium schools. Schools were required to teach English starting with math and science, the two main subjects. The Prime Minister was of the view that learning English would take some years but the majority of the students (57%) are already enrolled in English medium schools. This has seen an increase in the number of English medium schools and a decline in learning other languages. In 1983 the government passed a law that required students to be taught in English.
Baoren (2011) stated that, “China and the United States should have similar objectives in the provision of bilingual education to their students. Bilingual education seeks to develop a foundation for a purposeful, productive, and fulfilling life. This is together with (a) just and compassionate society (that is) flourishing” (p. 264).
Internationally, most countries need to have their teachers retrained to help students that are not proficient in English.
Dominant Native Language among ELLs in the USA
According to the Migration Policy Institute, ELL “students around the nation speak over 150 languages but Spanish is the language that is used and is considered most common in the student’s homes” (Batalova & McHugh, 2010, p. 1). See Figure 1
Between 2008 and 2009, 77.2% of the 36 million ELL students enrolled in the United States spoke Spanish. The other languages spoken were Vietnamese and Chinese (Batalova & McHugh, 2010: p. 1). The United States is facing an increase in the number of individuals that speak Spanish only. However, it is important to note that ELLs not only consist of Spanish-speaking students but also other languages such as Vietnamese. The map below shows the states where Spanish is the dominant language among ELLs:
This increase in the number of Spanish-speaking students in the country is impacting teaching especially when it comes to ELL. This is given the fact that the teachers may concentrate so much on the needs of the Spanish-speaking students since they are the majority ELLs and ignore those of other minority students. To this end, it is important to train the teachers and impart them with skills that are necessary to deal with a class made up of students from varying cultural backgrounds.
Multiculturalism and Public Education in the USA
It is important to note that multiculturalism in public education is an issue that educators and administrators should take into consideration to make sure that the curriculum addresses the diversity of students from different ethnic groups. With the increasing population of students from different backgrounds in the United States of America, teachers need to learn how to communicate with these individuals verbally and nonverbally. Teaching in the classroom should reflect the different cultural backgrounds of the students by giving them an opportunity to learn. Teachers should learn their student’s family backgrounds to understand how each culture influences the decisions made by the students and how they handle conflicts. Davis (2007) states:
“For a multicultural education, cultural information is integrated into the subject matter, knowledge is viewed as a social construction, democratic attitudes and values are supported, academic achievement for culturally diverse students is facilitated, and school environments are revamped to empower marginalized students” (p. 5).
School administrators and teachers should recognize the different attitudes of different students, how different students complete tasks differently and even the difference in the way communication takes place. As educators, recognizing the differences among students and their cultural diversity is very important. This will help students and teachers in respecting the differences that come with other cultures. This will also help students to be more open to different learning styles and techniques and to be more willing in learning about other cultures. Once this happens the prejudices and stereotypes that divide this nation will be a thing of the past. Teaching non- English speaking is possible.
In this chapter, the researcher critically reviewed literature that is to be found within the field of teaching non- English speaking Hispanic students. The review of the literature helped in locating the current study within the wider field of teaching these students. Among the topics covered includes Texas legislation touching on bilingual education, factors affecting bilingual education, learning theories, and bilingual education from an international perspective.
In chapter three, the researcher will provide the reader with information regarding the steps that were followed in conducting the study. This is to give the reader an idea of how data was collected, how data was analyzed, and the limitations of the research methodology adopted.
In chapter two the researcher provided the reader with a critical review of literature that exists in this field. The aim of this critical review was among others to locate the current study within the larger field by identifying the link between the current study and others that have been conducted in the past.
In chapter three, the researcher will provide the reader with an analysis of the steps that will be taken to collect and analyze data for the study. The aim is to provide the reader with an idea of how the whole study will be structured.
The study will address the education of non-English speaking Hispanic students at the middle school level. The study will include bilingual and non-bilingual students used to test the hypothesis of the study. The aim of the study will be to identify how teachers address the issue of multiculturalism at the middle school level. This is given that the teachers deal with both non-English speaking English as well as English speaking students.
The research methodology that will be used in the field-based study is presented in different phases below. The researcher will start by reviewing the research design and how suitable it is to test the hypotheses. The research design includes sampling, collecting data, and finally analyzing this data. The data will be analyzed in an attempt to test the hypothesis formulated (Eisner, 2011).
A qualitative research design will be adopted for the current study. The purpose of the study will be to qualitatively explore multiculturalism in classrooms in Port Arthur Independent School District. In this qualitative phenomenological study, the researcher will compare the Port Arthur Independent School District model to the “Wheel Intelligence model” that has been used for students at the secondary level. The study will include students in the bilingual program as well as those not in the program. The aim of this comparison is to determine which model best meets the needs of students learning the English language (Auch, 2003).
The research will focus on three middle schools in PAISD. These include the Lincoln Middle School, Thomas Jefferson Middle School, and Stephen F. Austin Middle School. Students from these schools will be divided into those enrolled in the bilingual program (group A) and those, not in the program (group B). The study will focus on multiculturalism in public schools and the challenges that the teachers face in attending to such students. A sample size of 25 students per class will be used in each group.
Group A students were enrolled in a bilingual program and were taught by a bilingual teacher while group B students were enrolled in a bilingual program but were attended to by a non-bilingual teacher.
The researcher will use interviews to collect data for the study. Teachers involved in the program will also be expected to answer qualitative questions so as to obtain exact information on the middle schools. The data obtained here will be compared with that obtained from other sources to verify its validity (Ader et al., 2008).
The researcher will uphold the informed consent and confidentiality ethical standards. Before the study commences a request will be put to the teachers to participate in the study. They will be informed that they have the option of accepting the request and becoming part of the study or declining it. They will also be informed that they have the option of dropping out of the study at any point and it is not a must for them to provide explanations or justifications for the same.
Consent on the part of the students will be obtained from the teachers, the parents, and the students themselves. Informed consent means that the potential participants will be made aware of the nature of the study and the form of information that will be collected. From this, they can make informed decisions whether to participate in the study or not. It is also noted that personal information will not be disclosed to third parties without the consent of the respondents.
Two research questions will guide this study. Data collection and analysis will revolve around these questions. The research questions are restated below:
Research Question One
How do bilingual students differ from non-bilingual students in terms of performance and progress at the middle school level?
Research Question Two
Are there challenges facing teachers in a multicultural classroom at the Middle School level?
Research Sample and Research Population
The participants will be selected from a population of 778 middle school Hispanic students. Twenty students will be randomly selected from a group of 339 students with a teacher from the bilingual program. The researcher will select another group consisting of 20 students without a teacher from the bilingual program. The population for this study will be the entire Hispanic student body from all the middle schools.
The population represents Hispanic students attending all the three middle schools mentioned earlier in Port Arthur Independent School District (PAISD). The population of these students has changed over the years.
In collecting data for the study, the researcher will take into consideration the model PAISD uses for the district bilingual program. It is noted that PAISD uses the Early Exit model which focuses on ELL students enrolled in classes taught in English. This is up to the third grade. Students at a secondary level of learning are not included.
The findings of this study will inform stakeholders on the gaps in multicultural training for teachers and administrators. The results will be instrumental in helping the stakeholders revise the existing curriculum within the district.
The first step in collecting data for the study will require teachers and students from each of the middle schools selected for the study to complete an anonymous survey through survey monkey. There will be a total of ten open-ended questions for the teachers. This will require them to describe multiculturalism in the classroom. They will also be required to provide information on the challenges they face when teaching non-English speaking Hispanic students in the classroom. There will also be ten open-ended questions for participants selected from the schools’ administration. The questions will also take the form of a survey.
The participants will be requested to describe the challenges facing the district as far as teaching non- English speaking Hispanic students is concerned. The students will also be requested to answer questions addressing their experiences in non-English speaking Hispanic classes. Interviews will be conducted on all the participants using an interview schedule that is fairly open. The major aim of the interview is to clarify the responses provided in the survey.
The current study will make use of qualitative data as already indicated earlier in the paper. The researcher settled for a qualitative research methodology as they felt that it would provide insightful information on the phenomenon being studied than a quantitative methodology. A phenomenological case study was also preferred over other qualitative methods such as surveys. The researcher felt that the methodology will provide insightful information as compared to the other qualitative methods.
Eswell (2008) notes that “qualitative research examines the phenomenon within the cultural and social context in which it takes place” (p. 210). A quantitative approach was not selected because this type of research requires a dependent and an independent variable and the data analysis is usually statistical in nature. A qualitative design, on the other hand, will help the researcher to have an insight into the experience of the stakeholders in the teaching of the non–English speaking Hispanic students.
This is as far as their behavior, attitude and culture are concerned. More specifically, the researcher will study the students and teachers in their natural settings. The researcher will observe the student’s behavior when he or she is unable to speak English and attends mainstream classes. The researcher will also observe how attending these classes affect’s the student’s learning ability. Qualitative research collects narrative data whereas quantitative research collects numerical data.
Qualitative data analysis methods will be used for the study. To this end, the researcher will rely more on the coding of data. The data will be coded using thematic analysis and content analysis. This is as opposed to the use of other qualitative data analysis methods such as mechanical techniques.
In coding, the researcher will go through the questionnaires and interviews with the respondents. These will be analyzed and “coded” depending on how the information is related to the research questions and research objectives. One major weakness of this data analysis method is the fact that it tends to transform qualitative data into semi-quantitative data by giving it labels and tags. However, in spite of this weakness, the methodology is appropriate for this study. The weakness will be addressed by combining thematic and content analysis models.
The thematic analysis involves organizing the data collected in order to identify recurrent patterns and themes. According to Eswell (2008), a theme in this context can be defined as “….a cluster (of) linked categories with similar meanings (which) is made evident through an inductive analytic process” (p. 45). To this end, the researcher will go through the data collected trying to pick out patterns and themes that are related to the various research questions and objectives.
Another technique that the researcher will use to code the data collected is content analysis as already indicated. Eswell (2008) defines this method as “……..the research tool (applied) to identify the presence of particular words and concepts (in) texts or sets of texts” (p. 56). In other words, the researcher will study the texts from the data collected trying to identify the concepts that relate to the research questions and objectives.
The phenomenological case study design that was adopted had some weaknesses and limitations. These posed a challenge to the quality and accuracy of the data collected. Some data that the researcher used was obtained from education offices and it was likely to be subjective rather than objective. To offset this limitation, the researcher used the data carefully and sparingly to determine the effects of multiculturalism in middle-level classes and the effort made to address the challenges if any. Students from either side have been subjected to different modes of education that give rise to these challenges. The study’s focus on bilingual and non-bilingual scenarios was also likely to give rise to inaccurate data since the two groups have been exposed to the same program in one way or the other.
The collection of specific data from the study sample was also problematic at some points. This is for the example given that the interviews conducted were likely to be influenced by the behavior of the participants. The participants may have been affected by the presence of the researcher and as such gave inaccurate and untrue information. To this end, the results obtained were likely to be invalid since the information obtained was not in accordance with the scientific research techniques.
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