Educating Non-English-Speaking Hispanic Students at Middle School

Abstract

This study explores a selected school district bilingual program and the challenges faced-teaching non-English Hispanic students on the secondary level. Growth in the population of Hispanic families in Southeast Texas, classed as English Language Learners (ELL), is severely taxing the public education system. This study explored specific issues regarding the training of teachers in bilingual education, and the apparent lack of a pedagogical model to assist planning and delivery of the educational program for the students on the secondary level. Using a multiple case study approach, perceptions were sought regarding the applicability of multicultural education and equity pedagogy strategies to the school district’s situation and the development of a guiding model. A model is proposed to address the gap for teachers of non-English-speaking Hispanic students on the secondary level.

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Dedication

I dedicate this work to my loving fiancé, who has supported me from the beginning and has been my strong tower to lean on. He is my dearest friend, my voice of reason and my extra eyes and ears. Thank you for your help and understanding of the long nights of my researching and even the times traveling with me to school to be not only my support but also my long life cheerleader and counselor. I thank God for all you have done and still doing. You are forever the love of my life.

Acknowledgements

This dissertation has been a wonderful experience and it is because of the individuals along the way and their inspiring help and encouragement. From the beginning of my graduate work, I had someone to give me good advice and encouraged me to keep moving on so that I can receive the reward God has for me.

To my very first advisor… who quickly became a mentor, you continuously pushed me and reminded me the importance of receiving this degree…. Showed his interest by staying in contact with me until this very day giving me encouragement and cheering me all along.

To my chair… from the very first day, I asked him to be my chair he has shown so much interest in my topic and in my future by offering to help me be published. His encouraging words, his quick thoughts and help throughout this dissertation process have been inspirational. There is no other chair like mine and I am proud to be his mentee.

To my committee … you were very tough but I understand the reason behind it and I appreciate your reflections on my work and your expectations. I am committed to become a scholar to fulfill my academic obligations. This will help me in my future intellectual work and also future students. I appreciate the critiquing, enthusiasm, and comments towards my work making and keeping me focused.

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To my family… you were patient with me carrying a laptop everywhere. Thank you for putting up with all the papers and helping me to complete my class work. Your encouraging words, hugs, and kisses helped me continue. Without you, I would not have survived this program. To my parents who became very ill during my dissertation journey. You always said, “Keep on going no matter what they try to do to discourage you. Just trust in the Lord and he will see you through.” Through this process, both my parents passed and will not get to see me graduate but I know they are always with me. So I still want to thank dad and mom for their love, and their continuous support. Rest in Peace Daddy and Mama I will forever love you and one day I will see you again in Jesus name.

Introduction

Introduction and Background

Teaching strategies, learning and reading skills that influence cultural diversity is called equity pedagogy (McGee Banks & Banks, 2010). Consequently, equity pedagogy equips students with learning skills to test and challenge fundamental social structures. The features of equity pedagogy include cooperative learning groups, methods, ethnic and cultural diversity. As a result, equity pedagogy challenges teachers, involves students in the learning process. Recent studies conducted in the United States of America show that minority students in the country are underperforming in comparison to Caucasian students at the middle school level. According to the U. S. Department of Education, the academic performance of minority students today is as poor as it was in the 1990s, while Caucasian students have shown vast improvement (US Department of Education, 2008; Webley, 2011). Hispanic students in particular perform poorly in schools. Reardon and Galindo (2009) argue that the disparity between the academic performance of Caucasian students and minority students manifests itself in two ways. First of all, access to high quality education is different in both cases (Reardon & Galindo, 2009). Minority students with low socioeconomic status are unable to get appropriate educational opportunities (Bode, 2009). Secondly, minority students face myriads of family related challenges such as poor housing and low income and hence, they eventually perform poorly (OECD, 2009). Drawing upon data from the Early Childhood longitudinal Study, African American and Hispanic students tend to score lower on standardized tests compared to Caucasian students in Kindergarten through fifth grade (Reardon & Galindo, 2009). At the kindergarten level, the Hispanic and Black students scored 75% (in math) and 50% (in reading) less than their Caucasian counterparts. They further observe that such disparities in academic performance between the two groups persist throughout their primary and secondary school education.

Banks and Banks (1995) define equity pedagogy as teaching strategies and classroom environments that help students from diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural groups attain the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to function effectively within and help create and perpetuate a just, humane, and democratic society (p. 152).

The inappropriate implementation of equity pedagogy has various consequences (Slavin, 2006). One consequence is that students from minority groups lack the opportunity to learn and improve themselves. The problems faced by Hispanic students during their middle school continue during their high school and further higher studies as well. There is a need to improve the learning outcomes of non-English-speaking Hispanic students (Rocha, 2008) and devise ways to use equity pedagogy in an effective manner. If equity pedagogy is not implemented successfully, the academic achievements of students, who do not perform well, will not be attained and equity among the students would not be developed. Yet another challenge has been faced by the newly arrived Hispanic students in the middle schools. This challenge pertains to the academic and literacy fields. Such students have to exert more on their studies to tackle dual work – first, towards their course work and second, towards learning English language (Young, Lakin, Courtney, & Martiniello, 2012).

Public schools in the United States are facing a problem with an increase in the number of minority non-English-speaking students. According to Woodruff (2013), 35% proficiency in English speaking is demonstrated by Hispanic students when they sit for national tests. A lower proficiency figure of just 25% has been documented in New Britain (Woodruff, 2013). In 2012, chronic absenteeism of up to 30% was recorded (Woodruff, 2013). At least 18 school days were not attended by Hispanic students in 2012 (Woodruff, 2013). These figures account for the growing concern in educating non-English Hispanic students. As a result, equity pedagogy will improve students’ learning performance.

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The lower attendance of such students affects their performance to a great extent. However, there are other factors as well that lead to poor academic performance of such students. Schools with minority student population do not expect extraordinary academic performance (Borman & Rachuba, 2001).

Teachers and administrators struggle with teaching and accommodating non-English-speaking students (Webley, 2011). One way to address the challenge is to adapt pedagogy and curriculum to the needs of non-English-speaking students. Another way could be to include such programs, especially in social studies classes, that promote mutual communication among students of diverse cultural groups. During such programs, students interact with each other and behave in a socially acceptable manner. Moreover, the behavioral traits developed during such programs help the students in demonstrating better conduct in additional courses as well.

Matters of identity arise in relation to a number of different things, including nations, organizations, sub-grouping and so on. But since here we are concerned with the education part, we will limit our discussion of the relation between identity and educational progress. Education must be associated with questions of personal identity because it affects social development. It is incorrect to view education solely with the transmission of knowledge and understanding (Robb, 2015). In addition to knowledge and understanding, education seeks to develop individuals inter alia attitudes, feelings, emotions, skills, dispositions, and qualities of character. Inter alia in this context describes an example from various possibilities

These differing elements of the achievements sought in education cannot, of course, be seen as separate from each other, and are interrelated in complex ways. Educational influence impinges often to a significant extent, upon the personal identity of individuals, which requires articulation and justification (Robb, 2015).

Such lines of inquiry and criticism, among others, generate and are linked to important educational dilemmas which arise from this general perspective. These educational dilemmas are wide ranging. They include questions relating to the educational rights and duties, which parents are opinionated. Difficulties of principle and practice which arise in the educational treatment of matters of significant controversy in schools, and questions relating to specific schooling arrangements, including the question of whether separate schools can be justified.

According to Davis (2007)

….many methods of adapting pedagogy and curriculum can help students learn about multicultural democracy and develop more positive racial identities. Teachers can learn about their students’ racial and cultural identities in asking student-centered questions that apply what is being taught in class to the students’ lives. […] Teachers can assign reflective pieces that allow students to apply their present understanding of race and culture to historical events. […] If teachers provide accurate information about racial and ethnic groups, rather than stereotypes, students will be able to disregard many of the false understandings (pp. 210-212).

Fiese and Skillman (2000) noticed that stereotyping occurs frequently where the given task emphasizes poor results related to social identities. In such cases, the best way of avoiding stereotyping is to change the description of the task. By doing so, the stereotypes will not be invoked and the intimidation will be purged. Acquiring education is a right of every child irrespective of his/her cultural and ethnic background (Save the Children, 2011). Education aims at imparting knowledge to all and as such, purging intimidation of invoking stereotypes will result in students being treated equally (Save the Children, 2011).

As a result, students from different racial backgrounds try to accommodate each other. African-American students and Hispanic students on the one hand and the Caucasian students on the other hand accommodate each other because of enhanced positive racial identities. If teachers and schools make efforts to create positive racial identities among the learners, the academic performance of the school would improve (Fiese & Skillman, 2000). As a result, the students will excel academically and associate well with individuals from diverse backgrounds (Fiese & Skillman, 2000). Such coexistence improves the academic performance of non-English-speaking Hispanic students as they develop a sense of belonging to the school system (Slavin, 2006). The curriculum is changed to help students learn about other cultures. In this regard, teachers and administrators can adopt what Slavin (2006) referred to as equity pedagogy. This approach is based on the use of techniques which enable teachers to support learners who represent diverse cultural, linguistic, or social backgrounds (Sleeter, 2012). Learning other cultures promotes academic performance among students (Sleeter, 2012). It is expected that students from different cultures coexist peacefully after developing the positive racial identities alluded to by Davis. Minority students should not feel intimidated by the majority students.

There are several challenges faced in the implementation of equity pedagogy. For example, teachers have a very simplistic understanding of equity pedagogy (Sleeter, 2012, p. 562). As such, they are not adequately trained to teach students who cannot speak English (Davis, 2007). There can be a breakdown in communication between the student and the teacher who will be affected by the language barriers (Davis, 2007). Sleeter (2012) argues that this approach to education is vital for improving the academic achievement of students. Smith, Stern, and Shatrova (2008) argued that language barrier is one of the most significant challenges facing Hispanic parents who wish to get involved in the school activities. In most schools, teachers speak little or no Spanish. As such, the teachers find it hard to communicate with the Hispanic parents with regard to the grades, behavior, and other issues that affect their children. To make matters worse, there are no interpreters during most school meetings. Hispanic parents find it hard to understand what is going on in such school meetings. “Hispanic students have higher intrinsic motivation toward English when there were increased parent-school communications concerning benign school issues such as school program for the year, plans after high school, course selection, and helping with homework” (Fan, Williams, & Wolters, 2012, p. 3).

According to Fan, Williams and Wolters, (2012), Research has shown existing disparities between the achievement of minority students and their Caucasian counterparts. For example, in 2004, Caucasian students at all grade levels performed better on reading and mathematics assessments than African American and Hispanic students (US Department of Education, 2008) (p. 24).

If a teacher, for example, adopts a teaching technique that favors Caucasian students, minority students (such as Hispanic) may be disadvantaged. Administrators expect teachers dealing with a classroom with non-English-speaking Hispanic students to use various techniques that correspond to the learning styles of students with different ethnic, racial, and cultural backgrounds. For instance, the teacher can use a highly personalized but demanding approach when teaching Native Alaskan or American Indian students. In addition to personalization, equity pedagogy involves the use of cooperative learning methodologies in science and math instruction to enhance concept comprehension among non-Caucasian students (Slavin, 2006).

To complicate matters, teachers lack the capability to deal with these students (due to behavioral issues), regardless of whether the learners were born in the United States, or whether they are the first, second or third generation to attend an American public school (Slavin, 2006). There are other challenges associated with the practice. They include inadequate facilities to cater for the need of ELL students (Roekel, 2008). Teachers express frustration over the wide range of English language proficiency and academic levels and the fact they receive little professional development or in-service training on how to teach ELLs (Roekel, 2008, pp. 1-2).

Accommodating ELL is a legal requirement in the United States (Mentze, 2010). Mentze (2010) cites the 1964 Civil Rights Act as the basis for the legal rights of ELL’s. According to the act, “no person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance” (Mentze, 2010). Government funds public education and as such, non-English- speaking Hispanic students should not be denied access because of their race (Mentze, 2010). Teachers can neither demand the exclusive use of English in their classroom nor disallow the use of or belittle the learners’ home language and culture (Galguera, 2011).

There is a gap between acknowledging the value of equity pedagogy and its implementation in the classroom. Galguera (2011) articulates the following:

….the challenges facing teacher educators in preparing teachers with attention to language development for academic purposes are complex. On the one hand, thinking about teaching practice exclusively for ELL students is an approach that is both too broad and not sufficiently inclusive as well as possibly deficit thinking among teachers and administrators. […] However, we can help teachers conceive a set of learning goals and objectives as well as related curricula and pedagogy intended to apprentice students into the academic discourse community. Rather than ensuring that pre-service teachers are able to distinguish between academic and non-academic varieties in order to teach the former, I propose that we concentrate our efforts in preparing teachers to consider the functions language plays in an academic setting. (pp. 89-90).

The researcher is a resident of this region and has been involved in teaching non-English-speaking Hispanic students in the district. This is the reason for selecting the school district for the study. As of 2012, the school district had nine elementary schools, two middle schools, and six high schools. The population of interest to the current study is the two Middle Schools (Grades 6-8) that are mainly Hispanic rural Texas school districts.

There is no particular English as Second Language (ESL) programs for middle schools, and this is one of the reasons why they were selected for the study and not elementary or high schools. There are programs put in place in the elementary schools, where the students are required to learn English by third grade (Rocha, 2008). However, there are no such programs for secondary schools, which include middle schools. The schools have the option of implementing their own programs. According to Faltis (2010), “Texas state law currently mandates the availability of bilingual education for elementary students and a choice of bilingual or ESL for middle school students” (p. 89). The researcher is a middle school teacher, and she has come across many non-English-speaking Hispanic students. The teachers, according to Rocha (2008), lack training in equity pedagogy. Since the high school students cleared their middle school, they are not a focus of this study.

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 Hispanic students are also part of the multicultural students. 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. Understanding their learners will help the teachers and the other stakeholders identify their education related needs. The understanding will help in developing curricula suited to the individual students, which will in effect enhance equity pedagogy in the education system. Understanding the needs of the non-English-speaking students will help the teachers and other stakeholder tailor education to meet the needs of a growing diverse student population. The stakeholders can effectively examine the policies, practices, and curriculum adopted in their particular school to identify any possible bias and come up with measures to address them (Slavin, 2006).

Multiculturalism has brought with it many challenges as far as the teachings in class are concerned. The challenges arise from micro cultural values that represent different ethnicities and macro cultural values (Mushi, 2004). As far as micro cultural values are concerned, it is noted that every student has learning needs that are different from those of students from other cultural backgrounds. For example, the learning needs of non-English-speaking Hispanic students vary from those of Caucasian students. Non-English-speaking students may find it hard to articulate issues orally and in English, something that is not as prevalent among Caucasian students (Mushi, 2004). In the case of macro cultural values, the teachers find it hard to understand the individual needs of students from different cultural backgrounds. Mushi (2004) is of the view that teachers dealing with a culturally diverse class face unique challenges compared to their counterparts dealing with culturally homogenous classes.

The ability of a teacher to understand students from different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds is very important. The understanding goes a long way in improving equity pedagogy and educating non-English-speaking Hispanic students. The results of this should inform stakeholders about possible gaps in training teachers and administrators in equity pedagogy. The results should also inform stakeholders on how to revise existing curriculum within the district to address the issue.

Sleeter (2012) notes that the development of equity pedagogy is partly hindered by the lack of research which can demonstrate how equity pedagogy can contribute to the academic performance of students. The major obstacles in public schools concerning the development of students’ learning include students not understanding the language, not knowing how to write or interpret the language taught, and not understanding the different cultures introduced. With many non-English-speaking students entering the public school system, researchers suggest that teachers should understand not only the student, but also the student’s background, community, religion, and economic backgrounds (Davis, 2007).

Problem Statement

The lack of training and awareness has negatively affected the implementation of equity pedagogy in most public schools in the United States (Slavin, 2006). In spite of well qualified teachers at schools, the non-English-speaking Hispanic students of middle schools are unable to pass their exams. Surveys revealed that the Hispanic population in the US is growing concern to educationists (Guzman). However, students decline educational scholarships because of learning challenges. Non-English speaking Hispanic students face education hurdles in class environments. As a result, the dropout rate is a concern for educationists (National Center for Education Statistics, 2010). The quest for educational achievement transcends geographical locations. As a result, students migrate to locations with quality educational machinery. However, the learning process for non-English Hispanic students encounters various challenges. As a result, students’ performance is below standard measurement. Surveys carried out by educationists suggest that equity pedagogy transforms student’s cognitive reasoning in a learning environment. As a result, the barriers of educational attainment are eliminated with teaching strategies and learning skills. Previous surveys revealed that English learners make 21 percent of middle age kids (Bode, 2009). Consequently, a survey carried out on Mexican American students revealed that 65% perform below expected grade (Porteous, 2013). The results determined their overall academic performance measured by standardized tests. To handle this challenge, academic institution, teachers, parents and Non-Hispanic students require strategies for learning and applying studying skills in all disciplines.

Purpose Statement

The purpose of this exploratory and multiple case study is to specifically explore the challenges to implementing multicultural education (especially for Hispanic students) or equity pedagogy and ascertain how to augment learning skills among the non-English-speaking Hispanic students of middle schools. The investigation focuses on training challenges to teachers, pertaining to equity pedagogy in the district. The available information that was used for the study includes teachers and administrators dealing with non-English-speaking Hispanic students in two middle schools in a school setting. Study is a qualitative exploratory multiple case study, as it will provide insightful information about the phenomenon compared to other research designs. Multiple case studies will have more authority in terms of validity as compared to other designs (Gill, Stewart, Treasure, & Chadwick, 2009). Such a study fortifies the outcome by reproducing the results of the same phenomenon but through different sources. Likewise, confidence in the results is augmented. For this study, data will be collected using face-to-face respondent interviews from two different schools in Southeast Texas. The obtained data will be compared for similarity and/or disparity. Respondents will be selected from a population of 80 middle school teachers (for non-English-speaking Hispanic students) and administrators.

In this particular study, the researcher will use data triangulation to enhance the validity of the study. To this end, data will be collected from two sources. The researcher will interview teachers dealing with non-English speaking Hispanic students and school administrators. This exercise will be carried out in two schools to strengthen the results. The researcher will also compare previous studies as part of the Literature Review. In order to complete the triangulation of the study, the author will refer to various theories of scholars pertaining to the problem study.

A sample size of 10 teachers and 10 administrators will be selected for the interview. Several journals, books and articles, in addition to authentic websites, will be analyzed to gather the required information. As a result, the research will use a minimum of 75 sources. Consequently, three theories pertaining to the specific problem will be discussed.

Research Design

The study is a qualitative exploratory multiple case study. Two different schools in Southeast Texas were considered for the study. As a result, teachers and administrators will be informed on the research study. Volunteers will fill the informed consent form to fulfil the requirements for privacy and confidentiality. Form the list collected, the researcher will select participants at random. The research study will be based on five principles of research ethics. The ethics principles include minimizing harm, informed consent of participants, privacy and confidentiality, eliminative deceptive practices, and the right to withdraw. Thus, participants can withdraw at any stage of the research study. However, participants can withdraw from the interview for personal reasons. As a result, responses from the participant will be isolated from the remaining data. Thus, the exclusion criteria will include participant’s withdrawal from the research study. Participants will be informed that they are at liberty to withdraw from the research interview at any stage. From amongst the teachers and administrators of both the schools, 80 respondents (56 teachers and 24 administrators) will be selected. From among these respondents, 10 teachers and 10 administrators will be randomly selected for the sample size. The selected teachers and administrators will be divided into two groups, based on their schools. Further, they will be given numbers in order to maintain confidentiality. The author proposes to make four sets of numbers for teachers and administrators from the two schools (2 X 2 = 4). The number would be pasted on the recording discs and put in a jar. Five discs would be randomly picked from the jar and those respondents whose numbers appear on these discs would be the actual participants of the interview. The same procedure would be repeated for other teachers and administrators.

Since the study is a qualitative exploratory multiple case study, two more sources are required to explore it. For the second source, the author proposes to refer to various journals, books, and authentic websites to gather the required information. Almost 70 such sources will be referred. The third source will be theories of renowned scholars pertaining to the specific problem. The author proposes to refer at least three such theories.

A qualitative research method will be adopted for the study. The qualitative research method is used when the outcome of the research is ambiguous. This kind of research is also helpful in situations where it is difficult to understand the problem and develop an approach to it (Amora, 2010). Further, qualitative research is useful when the study being conducted is exploratory and descriptive and some new perspectives on previous issues are being sought (Kuna, 2003). The exploratory nature of the research would allow respondents to express their views without any sort of bias. The word freedom has been used here because all the responses will be marked by numbers rather than names. The corresponding names for the numbers will be known to the author and other related people only. The research data would be coded using thematic and content analyses.

After the completion of the requisite interviews, the information from each respondent will be summarized and categorized. Responses with similar thematic answers will be separated (no duplicate entries will be made). Answers with different themes will be accumulated and a specific theme will be formed. It is important to consider the relation of the respondents with the research group; their perspective, characteristics, and the environment. The responses from the participants will be analyzed to determine which research question and research objective they are addressing. One major weakness of this data analysis method is that it tends to transform qualitative data into semi-quantitative data by giving it labels and tags. In this case, the qualitative data will be tagged and labeled according to the research question and research objective they address. In addition, the method is biased to some extent. It tends to leave out information that does not correspond to the themes identified by the researcher. However, a major strength of the methodology is that it helps in analyzing all themes (primary, secondary, and tertiary), which have implications on the research questions. In spite of its inability to highlight themes that are external to the research questions conclusively, the methodology is appropriate for this study. The weakness of transforming qualitative data into semi-quantitative data will be addressed by combining thematic and content analysis models.

Thematic analysis involves organizing the data collected to identify recurrent patterns and themes. To this end, the researcher will go through the data collected to pick out patterns and themes related to the various research questions and objectives.

The researcher will study the texts from the data collected trying to identify the concepts that relate to the research questions and objectives. The collected information will be summarized and responses with similar thematic answers will be separated. The research would ensure that no duplicate entries are made. Responses with different answers will be collected separately and a joint theme will be formed. Content analysis and thematic analysis are closely related, especially in the context of the current study. Both of them hinge on the research questions. For example, the themes are derived from the research questions formulated. On its part, the content is made up of the information gathered from the interviews, inclusive of all ideas, whether evident in the research questions or not.

Other qualitative techniques, such as simple description, were not used. The reason is that simple description may fail to provide in-depth information about the case study. Unlike the methodologies adopted for this study, simple description may fail to provide a clear link between the various aspects of the study, such as the link between the data collected and the various three research questions.

The author preferred to adopt a qualitative study method rather than a quantitative study. The preference was influenced by the fact that while quantitative research methodology brings forth the underlying reasons and motives, the purpose of using quantitative research methodology is to collect primary data and simplify the results from a sample with regard to the population of interest. Further, since only a small sample of respondents was possible in the study, qualitative method was preferred because in a quantitative research methodology, large sample sizes are required to get the desired results. Finally, the data analysis method in qualitative research methodology is non-statistical and it helps in descriptive thesis, whereas in quantitative research methodology, it has to be statistical with an option to choose the methods.

Qualitative Research Questions

In the 1990s, educationists of the Americas started realizing that there was a need to reform the education sector to prepare the learners to face the changes associated with contemporary society (Navarra, 2006). The reforms initiated by the various governments (both federal and state) included, among others, improving the efficiency of the education system, modernizing the system, and enhancing equity. The research questions posed in this study will help identify and analyze the various perceived challenges of equity pedagogy by teachers and administrators dealing with non-English speaking Hispanic students in the rural Texas school district.

What are the various challenges involved in training teachers dealing with non-English-speaking Hispanic students in the rural Texas school district in equity pedagogy?

Answering this question may help in identifying the shortcomings associated with training teachers to deal with non-English speaking Hispanic students.

What are the perceptions of teachers and administrators in rural Texas school district regarding the challenges of teaching non-English-speaking students at the middle school level?

Answering the question helps in gauging teachers’ attitudes toward addressing the needs of non-English speaking Hispanic students.

How can equity pedagogy address the challenges faced in rural Texas public schools?

Answering the questions may assist in the creation of a link between equity pedagogy and learning in public schools. It may also help in identifying ways through which equity pedagogy can be used to address challenges associated with teaching students from diverse backgrounds.

Significance of the Study

There are many studies conducted in a given field at any given time. As a result, the researcher of a new study needs to justify the importance or significance of their study in the field. The researcher needs to highlight the benefits of their study to the field (Eisner, 2011). In this section, the significance of the current study is highlighted.

Challenges faced by non-English-speaking Hispanic students

Non- English-speaking Hispanic students face many challenges concerning academic performance in the United States of America (Walsh, Kemerer, & Maniotis, 2005; Tupa, & McFadden, 2009). The challenges include low performance and high rates of school dropout. Reardon and Galindo (2009) found that in the 2000-2001 academic year, 8.8% of Hispanic students dropped out of high school. Only 4.1% of Caucasian students dropped out within the same period. The studies conducted with regard to the relationship between equity pedagogy and non-English-speaking Hispanic students are very minimal. Multicultural education outside of middle schools has also demonstrated similar findings. In addition, multicultural education for Hispanics appears in other areas such as arts, sciences and mathematics.

The knowledge gap equity pedagogy and teaching non-English speaking Hispanic students will be addressed in the current study. The results of this study may be used to inform practice concerning teacher training, professional development, and classroom curriculum. The findings may be of great importance to rural Texas school district and other school districts in the country in extension. The significance of this study is derived from Davis (2007) who argued that teaching controversial issues is beneficial to the students. Equity pedagogy may be regarded as a controversial issue in education. There are several reasons why the concept is controversial. First, it entails treating students from different backgrounds equally, which may be controversial in a country with people from different racial backgrounds like America. It entails teaching such controversial issues as racial equality (Davis, 2007). Davis revealed that teaching controversial issue exposed learners to new perspectives on race and culture (2007).

Significance of leadership

School administrators are known to face various challenges dealing with cultural diversity in their institutions. They find it hard to implement a curriculum that caters to the needs of students from various socioeconomic backgrounds. The challenge is faced by school administrators at Port Arthur and other school districts in the country (Davis, 2007). The study may help the administrators overcome these challenges. It may provide information that may help administrators formulate effective policies to address the challenge of cultural diversity. Such policies may include training teachers on equity pedagogy and helping students cope with the same. The findings of the study will be provided to school administration to help them further understand how to engage the community in equity pedagogy. It is vital to recognize the significant role played by the family and the community in a student’s educational life.

Research concept

In the proposed study, the researcher will gather information from teachers and administrators of the two middle schools in the rural Texas school district. The study is a qualitative exploratory multiple case study, which will consider Southeast Texas rural independent school district. The study plan has been provided in the following section. The study is a qualitative exploratory multiple case study. Two different schools in Southeast Texas were considered for the study. From amongst the teachers and administrators of both the schools, 80 respondents (56 teachers and 24 administrators) were chosen. From among these respondents, 10 teachers and 10 administrators will be randomly selected for sample size. The selected teachers and administrators will be divided into two groups, depending on their schools. Further, they will be given numbers in order to maintain confidentiality. The author proposes to make four sets of numbers for teachers and administrators from the two schools (2 X 2 = 4). The number would be pasted on the recording discs and put in a jar. 5 discs would be randomly picked from the jar and those respondents whose numbers appear on these discs would be the actual participants of the interview. The same procedure would be repeated for other teachers and administrators. After the completion of the requisite interviews, the information from each respondent will be summarized and categorized. Responses with similar thematic answers will be separated (no duplicate entries will be made). Answers with different themes will be accumulated and a specific theme will be formed. It is important to consider the relation of the respondents with the research group; their perspective, characteristics, and the environment. The responses from the participants will be analyzed to determine which research question and research objective they are addressing. One major weakness of this data analysis method is that it tends to transform qualitative data into semi-quantitative data by giving it labels and tags. In this case, the qualitative data will be tagged and labeled according to the research question and research objective they address. In addition, the method is biased to some extent. It tends to leave out information that does not correspond to the themes identified by the researcher. However, a major strength of the methodology is that it helps in analyzing all themes (primary, secondary, and tertiary), which have implications on the research questions. In spite of its inability to highlight themes that are external to the research questions conclusively, the methodology is appropriate for this study. The weakness of transforming qualitative data into semi-quantitative data will be addressed by combining thematic and content analysis models.

Questions emerged regarding instructions of non-English-speaking students in the United States. For example, should non-English-speaking students learn in the same classrooms as their English-speaking friends? Should they learn academic skills in their first language? Should they learn in English and receive explanations in their first language? Should they be instructed in English, but also have time to be instructed in their first language? Is the language of instruction the only thing that affects the learning process of these students? The questions are very important, and there is no way to provide an instant solution. Some of the challenges faced by non-English-speaking students are common among all students. For example, non-English speaking and English speaking students may find it difficult to understand the history of other countries with cultures unfamiliar to the students. There may never be a simple way of educating non-English-speaking students. Researchers argue it possible to develop guidelines that will help ELLs attain the academic achievement that is comparable to that of their non-ELL counterparts (Schultz, 2007). The possible solutions will require the combined solutions of these researchers and a contextual understanding of the ELL topics involved, which is achievable through this research.

In this research, participants will be selected from a population of 80 middle school teachers for non-English speaking Hispanic students and administrators. This includes 56 teachers and 24 administrators. The data will be collected through face-to-face interviews. To analyze the data the researcher will employ pattern clustering, triangulation, and cross-case synthesis. Thus, the data analysis will be tabulated in a qualitative research format.

Theoretical Framework

The increase in the number of non-English speaking students resulted in many challenges for 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 require training to address cultural diversity and students’ background (Bode, 2009). They should appreciate the individual needs of students from different cultural backgrounds (Bode, 2009). For example, they should be made aware of the need to learn English, they need to fit in with other students among others (Schultz, 2007). Theories are important as they provide the teachers with the hypothetical link between the various aspects involved in equity pedagogy, such as the need for equality. This is the reasons why teachers should be aware of these theories. The following theoretical frameworks will inform this study:

Krashen’s Theory of Second Language Acquisition

In 2003, Krashen provided a theoretical framework used to address cultural diversity in the classroom (Schultz, 2007). The Krashen’s Theory of Second Language Acquisition has five hypotheses (Krashen, 2003):

  1. The Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis: Requires interaction with the target language. In the context of this study, the researcher is 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.
  2. The Monitor Hypothesis: Addresses the link between language acquisition and learning. It goes further to define the influence that learning has on language acquisition. Here, the researcher is interested on how the non-English-speaking Hispanic student acquires and learns the English language and how student acquisition affects the learning. This relates back to teachers learning different strategies and techniques to help the non-English-Hispanic student be successful.
  3. The Natural Order hypothesis: The hypothesis posits that acquiring grammatical structures through a predictable process occur naturally. For example, it can be predicted that the non-English-speaking Hispanic learner may start learning the English language before understanding class instructions given in English.
  4. The Input hypothesis: The hypothesis deals with the manner in which learners acquire secondary languages. To this end, the researcher will explore how non-English-speaking Hispanic learners acquire the English language and how teachers overcome the language barrier within their classroom.
  5. The Affective filter hypothesis: The hypothesis insinuates that a number of variables affect the process of acquiring a second language. The variables facilitate the learning process. However, Krashen indicates that the variables are not the cause of the learning. The affective variables in this case may be the desire of the student to learn the English language, the support they receive from their teachers and their family members among others. The importance of support from their teachers and family members help students become successful in their academics to move on to a higher education.

The theory relates to this study with respect to all the five points. First of all, the researcher is interested in the interaction-taking place between the target students and the English language. Secondly, the researcher is interested in knowing how the non-English-speaking Hispanic student acquires and learns the English language and how student acquisition affects the learning. Thirdly, it can be predicted that the non-English-speaking Hispanic learner may start learning the English language before understanding class instructions given in English. Fourthly, the researcher will explore how non-English-speaking Hispanic learners acquire the English language and how teachers overcome the language barrier within their classroom. Finally, it has been stated in this research that the importance of support from their teachers and family members help students in being successful in their academics to move on to a higher education.

Erik Erikson’s Stages of Social Development

Erik Erikson provides eight stages of social development (Erikson, 1959).

  1. 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.
  2. Erikson’s second stage (autonomy versus doubt, ages 18 months to three years) provides that at age two, the child has developed enough language to communicate with others.
  3. The third stage addresses a child within the age bracket of three and six years. The children within this age bracket are developing language skills and motor skills. The 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, thus, affecting the child’s performance.
  4. Stage 4 is the time when the presence and influence of the teachers and peers increases and that of parents decrease. The child starts looking at the student’s ability and how he or she feels about them. For example, the child will experience positive and negative feelings, which can determine the success of the student.
  5. Stage five (12 to 18 years) is the period within which the child turns away from the parent and toward others.
  6. The sixth stage addresses intimacy versus isolation. The stage is characterized as young adulthood. The ability to share with someone is an important aspect of the individual at this stage.
  7. Stage 7 discusses middle adulthood and guides the next generation.
  8. The last stage focuses on late adulthood and integrity versus despair. At this stage, individual examine their opportunities and achievements (Slavin, 2006).

Children’s learning abilities depend a great deal on their surroundings and culture. In addition to hereditary qualities and characteristics, there are certain behavioral features and temperaments that children develop with age. According to Slavin (2006) “Development can be significantly affected by heredity, ability, exceptionality, personality, child rearing, culture, and the total environment” (p. 60). Child development is generally confused with growth, but as a matter of fact, both are different. While growth signifies the increase in size and age, development means the growth of capabilities. Various scholars explained such developments by categorizing the age of children into different stages. Development means enhancement of skills such as:

  • Gross motor – This means learning to do basic things such as sitting, standing, walking, running, balancing, etc.
  • Fine motor – This means learning to eat, write, play, etc.
  • Language – This means learning to speak and use body language to communicate.
  • Cognitive – This means developing thinking skills by which children start reasoning.
  • Social – Development of this skill means that a child is capable of interacting with people and understanding the meaning of relationships.

All the aforementioned skills are related to stepwise (stage wise) progress. Each one of the stages is crucial for development. The transition from one stage to others will be successful if the previous one has been passed. Like for example, a child will not be able to play (fine motor skill) if he/she has not passed the gross motor skill (has not learned how to sit, walk and run). However, Erik H. Erikson’s psychosocial theory (1959) refutes this claim and suggests that it is not necessary to successfully complete all the stages in order to continue growth. At the same time, Erikson believes that the succession of these stages is controlled by nature. If in case any particular stage is skipped, the person might face difficulties in his/her future life to deal with that particular deficiency. By implication, all the stages of development must be successful. Though each stage has a specific age limit, children with different capabilities might take less or more time (depending on their capabilities and intelligence) to pass through these stages. Erikson suggests eight developmental stages: Trust v Mistrust, Autonomy v Doubt, Initiative v Guilt, Industry v Inferiority, Identify v Role confusion, Intimacy v Isolation, Generativity v Stagnation, and Integrity v Despair (McLeod, 2013).

As Erikson suggests, depending on their capabilities, children might take more or less time to understand things. With reference to this study, the Hispanic students have a different culture at home and adapting to the new culture might take some time. So, instead of doubting the caliber of the teachers, this particular aspect should be understood. It is quite possible that due to increased interactions with fellow non-Hispanic students, the Hispanic students might learn faster because the basic problem in learning (for the Hispanic students) seems to be the English language and once they are proficient in it, they would understand and learn subjects easily.

The age of middle school students coincides with the Relative Stage (Identity v Role Confusion) of Erikson’s theory. By identity, Erikson means the perception of children about their standing in comparison to others. The children understand themselves and compare their qualities to those of others. On the contrary, there are children who are unable to recognize their talents and as such, cannot compare themselves to other people. Erikson terms this situation as ‘role confusion’. By implication, children cannot identify their role during communications and social interaction. There are certain behavioral changes associated with the stages of development. As a result, children become reckless and take their schoolwork lightly. The reason is that their preferences have changed and they are now concentrating all their energy on something else that is unproductive (McLeod, 2013).

Each child has an inborn intelligence and the power of grasping things and as such, the development is not the same in all children. Some of them develop skills faster while the others are slow in responding to learning activities. Even though the rate of development is different, children have to pass through certain milestones to follow a normal development process. Such milestones can be divided into four major categories of development: Physical, Social and emotional, thinking talent, and communication talent. Each milestone is correlated to the preceding and the next milestone; they overlap each other.

Physical development relates to the physical activities of a child wherein he learns to perform the initial activities such as sitting, standing, walking, running, etc. Social and emotional development relates to the abilities of children pertaining to being attentive, making transitions, and teamwork. Developing thinking skills is very crucial for being innovative in life. If this particular skill is developed perfectly, children can excel in life. Thinking can facilitate innovations. Children are well aware of the things to be done and use innovative methods to perform activities. Gradually, with the increase in age, children start acquiring communication talents.

Children do not develop in the same manner and within the same timeframe. As a result, parent should not express fear towards their slow development. One of the main reasons for the slow development of a child might be inadequate opportunities to use and/or express student understands. Parents generally do not allow their children to take up risky jobs. In such instances, children develop a kind of fear for that particular activity. Similarly, if a child seems to communicate sluggishly, it might be possible that his hearing might not be perfect and he might not have heard the instructions clearly. Genetic disorders (that the child might have acquired from his parents) might also be a reason for slow development. The theory relates to the current study because it links teaching strategies with the student’s stages of social development. The eight stages of social development can improve the teacher’s classroom strategies. As a result, each phase of a student’s life is stimulated by the environment. Thus, the challenges of non-English speaking Hispanic students can be tackled by linking this theory with equity pedagogy.

Vygotsky’s Social Development Theory

Vygotsky pointed out that social interactions precede development. According to the author, cognition and consciousness are the results of social behavior and socialization (Vygotsky, 2011). His work addresses three concepts:

  1. The first concept is that social interaction is essential for cognitive development. Vygotsky’s argument is quite different from that of Jean Piaget who points out that development precedes learning. He posited that cultural development among children occurs in two steps. The first is the social stage (between people). The second takes place at the individual stage (in a child).
  2. The next concept is the More Knowledgeable Other (MKO). It refers to any other individual whose comprehension is enhanced than that of the student. It can be a teacher, an older adult, or coach (Vygotsky, 2011).
  3. The third concept is Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). The ZPD is the zone where learning occurs. Vygotsky focuses on the interaction between people in a social and cultural context. In the context of the current study, the teacher is charged with the responsibility of promoting culturally relevant learning contexts. Culture is a crucial part of children’s education and as such, it is important to understand its moral responsibilities.

As children age chronologically and progress through the stages of cognitive development, they are also progressing through defined personal and social developmental stages as well. Children are continually developing a concept of their self that is shaped by their interactions with others and their attitudes about the world. Educators are equipped to have a significant impact on a child’s psychosocial development. Therefore, it is imperative that as an educator we must understand the patterns of personal and social development in order to teach, mentor, and interact with students at all levels of cognitive and psychosocial development. Although students are usually grouped by chronological age, their developmental levels may differ significantly, as well as the rate at which the children pass through each stage (Ojose, 2008). An intentional educator must be able to recognize what developmental stage her pupil is currently operating in and tailor instruction to meet those capabilities.

Society cannot function without rules that tell people how to communicate with one and other, how to avoid hurting others, and how to get along in life (Slavin, 2012). Piaget believes that there is a connection between cognitive stages of development and the ability to reason about moral issues (Ojose, 2008). Cognitive abilities provide the basis for a child to be able to reason out social situations and interactions with peers help a child to progress from one level to the next.. Piaget’s theory states that moral development progresses in predictable stages. Kohlberg states that evidence suggests the existence of a series of internally patterned or organized transformations of social concepts and attitudes. These transformations constitute a developmental process (Kohlberg, 2008). Both assert that children and adolescents pass through the stages of development in order from simple to complex, but an individual may behave according to one stage at one time and another at another time.

The theoretical framework of the research study includes approaches adopted to further the understanding of people’s thoughts, habits, and their emotions. Students learning a new language could experience frustrations, anger, and embarrassment. The phenomenon is complicated for most stakeholders (teachers, administrators, and city leaders) in the education sector. The three theories discussed above, (Krashen, 2003; Erikson, 1959; Vygotsky, 2011), are in tandem with the social and constructive nature of development. In extension, the three theories (Krashen, 2003; Erikson, 1959; Vygotsky, 2011) also support equity pedagogy. Steps needed to address challenges in equity pedagogy are partially identified using a social constructionist research approach.

Given the rising number of ethnic groups in our society, the outlined theories help the city management and the school district in exploring and coming up with ways to approach and solve education related problems in the community. The theory relates to the current study because it identifies the student’s cognitive approach towards social interaction. The significant issues to explore here include communication between cultures, attitudes, and cultural beliefs. Such issues will be addressed 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. The findings of the study will help the community and the school to understand each other’s ethnic backgrounds better. It will ultimately provide a better learning experience for non-English-speaking students.

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).

The Learning Wheel Theory

In this study, the researcher will rely more on the learning wheel theory by Annabelle Nelson. Nelson (1998) argued that the learning wheel model is a concrete and practical tool in the planning of a lesson. The wheel is applicable in a multicultural setting. This theory relates to the current study because it helps teachers who are handling students from different cultures design lesson plans. The main assumption of this model is that different cultures have different ways of processing information. The scholar refers to these differences as “intelligences”, which teachers can use to create mind maps. More information on this model will be provided in chapter two. Since this study is based on the efforts of teachers towards teaching students belonging to the Hispanic cultural background (part of multi-culture), this theory will be helpful in planning appropriate lesson plans for the 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 every day’s meaning. In this section, the researcher provides definitions for relevant 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, 2012).
  • 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: The strategy is used in addressing the needs of students from varying backgrounds. It involves coming up with different teaching strategies to help learners with varying abilities, interests, and learning needs (Robb, 2015). The strategy helps the learners to gain skills and knowledge necessary in the learning process
  • English Language Learners (ELL): Are terms used for the much smaller number of learners who are not native speakers to succeed in English (Slavin, 2006).
  • English as second language (ESL): Subject taught in English classes and programs for students who are not native speakers of English (Slavin, 2006).
  • Equity: The state of 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 (Hartmann, 1992).
  • 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 (CENTER ON DISABILITY STUDIES, 2010).
  • National Education Association (NEA): The oldest and largest teachers union (National Education Association, 1992).
  • 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 may not be possible to address each aspect of a given topic in one study. It is hard to explore all the variables present in a given study. To address this issue, it is assumed that the variables that cannot be explored will remain constant and unchanged throughout the study. If the variables happen to change, it is assumed that the change will have minor effects on the outcomes of the study. Following are the assumptions made in this study:

The researcher presupposes that non-English-speaking Hispanic students do face challenges in learning English language and other subjects in the school (Armario, 2013). The researcher further presupposes that the experiences of students at the two schools selected in Southeast Texas District are comparable to those of other schools in the district and in the whole country in extension. Additionally, the researcher holds constant the fact that teachers play a very significant role in educating non-English-speaking Hispanic students (Saravia-Shore, 2008). Apart from teachers, other stakeholders such as the student, school administrators, and members of the community held a similar role (Understanding the Hispanic/Latino culture, n.d., para. 16). The researcher also holds that the effect that equity pedagogy is an important policy adopted by schools in addressing the needs of non- English-speaking Hispanic students. It is also a biasing assumption. Stakeholders in the education sector are aware that non-English-speaking students face challenges in learning English and other subjects in school. Lastly, the researcher presupposes that the problems and challenges facing two rural Texas schools involve the construction of solutions through community-developed knowledge. It is crucial to involve the views and opinions of members of the community to achieve viable and sustainable solutions.

Scope, limitations, and delimitations of the Study

Scope 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 (Eisner, 2011). It is important to set boundaries within which the study will be conducted. The delineated boundaries within which the study is conducted comprise the ‘scope of the study’ (Eisner, 2011). The scope of this study is to investigate the hurdles being faced by teachers in imparting knowledge to the non-English-speaking Hispanic students of the middle school level. Consequently, the study will evaluate the factors that affect students in a multicultural environment. To analyze the challenges of non-English Hispanic students, the research will establish a link between equity pedagogy and student’s performance. The scope of the study will cover factors that affect non-English speaking Hispanic students. The factors include parents, social development, teaching strategies, cultural barriers, cultural diversity and classroom environment.

Limitations and delimitations of the study. The limitations to the study include honesty and openness of the participant, self-selection bias, social desirability, researcher bias, and transferability of results. Honesty and openness of the participants will influence the validity of the result. However, in a multicultural environment, silence may be a form of resistance to teaching strategies. As a result, the participant may not provide honest reflections during the interview. Consequently, the participant could withdraw from the interview to maintain privacy. A situation where respondents who strongly oppose or agree with the research topic, volunteer as participants is called self-selection bias. As a result, the research data will not be a fair representation of the research findings. Social desirability transcends individual perceptions and feeling towards the research topic. However, the response answers the survey questions based on social norms. For example, the participant may attribute stealing to unemployment because the society hates a particular government. As a result, the research findings will not be accurate in judgment. Researcher bias is a situation where the author influences the outcome of the results. As a result, the research might influence the selection process, research design, and data results. A situation where the research generalizes the research findings from different case studies is called transferability bias. As a result, researchers use specific research framework for different experimental settings. They argue that results transfer forms the bedrock for all qualitative research no matter the outcome. To mitigate these limitations in the current study, the researcher will avoid the pitfalls of a qualitative research method. The limitation exploratory multiple case study research includes irrelevant case studies, research budget, finding similar and dissimilar results in extreme case studies. Other limitations with exploratory multiple-case study include research design, biased responses, and misuse of case studies.

The study will be limited to non-English-speaking Hispanic students. English-speaking Hispanic students also face learning problems although they will not be addressed in the current study. The study will be limited to Hispanic students alone. Students from other minority groups, such as Latino and African American, will not be addressed despite the fact that they also face challenges. There are non-English-speaking Hispanic students in private schools in the country and in the school district, but the researcher will limit himself or herself to rural Texas school district. Other school districts in the state will not be addressed. 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.

An exploratory case study has various limitations. The limitations are analyzed below in relation to the current study:

  1. An exploratory case study is limited within the boundaries of a given phenomenon. The current case study will be limited to non-English speaking Hispanic students. The case will not include English speaking Hispanic students, even though some may face challenges similar to those of their non-English speaking counterparts.
  2. The case study will be limited to public schools in the school district despite that there are non-English-speaking Hispanic students in private schools in the country and in the school district.
  3. Another potential limitation of a case study is transferability. To this end, it may not be possible to ‘transfer’ events that happened in the past to the present. Furthermore, the case may not always apply to all situations. To this end, the researcher is aware that the findings made in this exploratory case study may not apply to other schools beyond those in rural Texas school district.
  4. A case study may also face problems related to conformability. This is given the interpretive nature of this methodology. The issue can lead to personal biasness on the part of the researcher. In the current study, the researcher may be biased by providing their personal opinion, as opposed to reporting what was found in the case.
  5. In order to avoid any bias, personal opinion, if any, will be based on the findings from the literature review and other parts of the study where various scholars have been cited.

Delimitations. Delimitations are the justifications of how the limitations have been dealt with in the study (Eisner, 2011). Thus, delimitations of the current study describe the conditions set by the researcher. The study will focus specifically on non-English-speaking Hispanic students. However, the delimitations associated with equity pedagogy, and which are faced by English speaking students, are less severe compared to those faced by non-English-speaking Hispanic students. The English-speaking students understand the language used by the teachers. The study focuses on Hispanic students because they are the largest group of non-English-speaking students compared to other groups of students, such as American-Indians. However, studying this large group is delimitation because of the huge amount of data involved. The number of non-English- speaking students in public schools is significantly higher than that in private schools. The number of schools in rural Texas school district and the number of non-English-speaking students is comparable to that in other school districts. In addition, Hispanic students in middle school are affected by equity pedagogy than their counterparts in other grades. It will delimit the study because obtaining the most updated empirical data will not be possible in all cases.

  1. The study specifically focuses on non-English-speaking Hispanic students. English-speaking students face challenges related to equity pedagogy. However, the challenges faced by English speaking students are less severe compared to those faced by non-English speaking students because the former understand the language used by teachers (Roach, 2008).
  2. The case study focuses on Hispanic students because they are the largest group of non-English-speaking students compared to other groups of students, such as American-Indians.
  3. The number of non-English-speaking students in public schools is significantly higher than in private schools.
  4. The number of schools in rural Texas school district as well as the number of non-English-speaking students is comparable to that in other school districts.
  5. Hispanic students in middle school are affected by equity pedagogy more than their counterparts in other grades.
  6. To address the problem of conformability, the researcher will ensure that they avoid providing their personal opinion when interpreting the data. All the information provided will be backed by data accessed from the various sources used in the study. This means that all the facts and figures used in the research will be substantiated by authentic sources.

Chapter Summary

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 about the whole study. Some of the issues highlighted include problem statement and background information, where the author provided an analysis of the issues revolving around the current study. In the purpose statement section, it was revealed that the main purpose of the study is to explore the link between equity pedagogy and teaching non-English speaking Hispanic students. Three research questions were provided for the current study. The significance of the study and nature of the study were also addressed. In chapter two, the researcher reviews 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.

Literature Review

Introduction

Chapter 2 presents a review of the literature in this field. The findings of studies carried out in a given field are published in journals and articles, which forms the literature base in that field. It is important for a researcher to familiarize himself or herself with the literature that exists in their field of study before carrying out the new research. The critical review helps to 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 (Auch, 2003).Critical literature review also helps in locating the current study within the larger field of study regarding non- English-speaking Hispanic students in America by identifying its relationship to other studies carried in the field in the past. Critical literature review also helps to avoid the duplication of research studies. The purpose of this dissertation is to explore the link between equity pedagogy and teaching non-English speaking Hispanic students. The topics that the researcher will cover in this chapter include Texas legislation and how it relates to bilingual and multilingual education.

The researcher accessed the literature to be reviewed in this study systematically. She searched two rural Texas schools database using key words. She also accessed some articles and books from these schools’ libraries. The researcher also visited the local public library to search for articles to use in the literature review. Several articles used reported the findings of studies conducted, while others expressed the professional opinions of the authors. The same applied to the books that were used. Some of the journals used in the literature review include among others, the Pedagogy, and Professional Responsibilities, Academic Excellence Indicator System: District profile, Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, Intercultural Education, Early Childhood Education Journal, Journal of Political Science Education, and Problems of Education in the 21st Century. The keywords entered into the databases are educating non-English-speaking Hispanic students, middle school teachers, ELL, role of parents and community in the studies of Hispanic students, equity pedagogy, Non-English-speaking students, Hispanic students, and Bilingual programs. The databases used included Cochrane online library, JSTOR, and Elsevier. Overall, 19 books, 27 journals and 30 authentic websites were referred for this study.

Texas Legislation and Bilingual Education

Bilingual education is the form of education given to students who entered public schools in the United States of America but 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 wonder whether the latter is the correct placement for the students who are non-English-speaking (Krashen, 2003). Some feel that mainstreaming and learning English as soon as possible will benefit the students. Students in bilingual programs outperform the students in an English-only program (Krashen, 2003). Krashen’s (2003) observations are supported by Gallo and his colleagues when they tried 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).

In 1981, Texas legislature made provisions for bilingual education. The law stated that any school district that has 20 or more LEP students in the same grade is required to have a bilingual education system at the elementary level (Walsh et al., 2005). This requirement does not include students at the secondary level.

The two South East Texas middle schools have non-English-speaking students at the secondary level (middle and high school). The non-English-speaking 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. ELL, limited English proficient, and ESL students can be successful.

Mentze (2010) explained the pedagogical and professional responsibilities that a teacher must possess to ensure quality education. According to Mentze (2010), these responsibilities may help entry-level teachers understand the procedures and laws in Texas public school’s system. The same will apply to secondary level teachers even if the program is subject to the discretion of the district (Rocha, 2008).The Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was passed in 1965. It is an equal opportunity legislation aimed at helping children with academic excellence. The act was reviewed and renamed ‘No Child Left behind’ (NCLB) in 2001. This act is to hold schools districts across the United States accountable for academic progress of all the students, irrespective of any factors such as race and ethnicity. The Bilingual Education Act of 1968 (BEA) implemented different forms of bilingual education for example ESL, ELL and LEP, which later became ESEA and the needs of these bilingual programs are to be federally funded. Another program the Structured English Immersion (SEI), the ELL students are taught in mainstream classes in English by teachers that are trained to meet the needs of the student.

The government has been cooperative as far as the formation of policies pertaining to the education of non-English-speaking Hispanic students is concerned (Rocha, 2008). But more than the formation, execution is important. The non-English-speaking Hispanic students should be able to avail the benefits specified by the government (Rocha, 2008). More efforts by the government are required in this particular field.

Importance of Education

Importance of education in human capital formation is subject to debate in formulating education policies. The influence of globalization, impact of conflict on education, performance measurements for the various stages in education and knowledge transfer with the aim of creating a knowledge economy form the basis of discussion in instilling lifelong learning and forming human capital. Borghans and Heijke (2005) argued that governments have structures to link education to the labor market for a long time. Green (2002) who seems to share similar sentiments with Borghans and Heijke (2005) argued that political and economic efficiency of the production process of education are critical to its success.

Although globalization centers on policymaking in divulging knowledge, Jallabe and Mora (2001) digress. They argue that universities’ adherence to Lifelong Learning is hampered, to some extent, by national policies, academic traditions and financial pressures. The manner in which international discourse on Lifelong Learning affects policy-making remains vague and subject to the above factors. This contrasts with Aucoin (2011) who critically elucidates on the massive opportunities and threats of globalization and ICT development to human capital and policy formulation. Aucoin (2011) compared knowledge societies and knowledge economies of developing nations and developed nations. Developed nations pursue knowledge economies, which is the basis for comparative advantage. Education facilities provided at educational institutions depend greatly on the aids provided by the government. So, if the government provides better aids, the institutions will be able to provide better facilities to their students. This is relevant to the Hispanic students who need extra care in schools. Having better funds would enable the schools to provide additional learning aids to the Hispanic students.

Factors Affecting Two South East Texas School Bilingual Programs

Two South East Texas rural schools face some challenges that may hinder the implementation of the bilingual program. If these challenges are not addressed, the quality of education in the district may be affected negatively. Some of these challenges or factors are analyzed below:

Student to teacher ratio

According to South East Texas school reports and Texas Academic Excellence Indicator System (AEIS), the student teacher ratio is 100 to 4. This figure reveals the need for adequate teacher’s mobilization to enhance student’s performance. A previous survey revealed that the Hispanic population in Texas is higher than the qualified teachers for non-English speaking students. Thus, it is imperative that school authorities bridge the gap between teacher student ratio and equity pedagogy. As a result, academic institutions must create learning opportunities across schools. Consequently, teacher quality, comfortable learning environment, adequate time for learning, balanced curriculum, a, student teacher ratio, group practice, and access to learning materials correlate students’ performance with equity pedagogy.

Table 1: Ethnic Distribution among selected South East Texas Middle Schools

Middle Schools Ethnic Distribution
Total Students 587 654 772
First
M.S.
Second
M.S.
Third M.S.
Student Count Percent Student Count Percent Student Count Percent
African American 297 50.6 493 75.4 277 35.9
Hispanic 221 37.6 143 21.9 414 53.6
White 22 3.7 4 0.6 28 3.6
Native American 0 0 2 0.3 0 0
Asian/Pacific Islander 47 8 12 1.8 53 6.9
Economically Disadvantaged 485 82.6 579 88.5 656 85
Limited English Proficient (LEP) 16 2.7 11 1.7 153 19.8
At Risk 58 41.2 302 46.2 525 68
Total No. of Teachers
African American 19 51 45.9 79.6 33.1 62.5
Hispanic 1 2.7 0 0 2.5 3.8
White 16 43.6 10.7 18.6 16.8 31.8
Native American 1 2.7 0 0 0 0
Asian/Pacific Islander 0 1 .7 1 1.9

Hispanic teachers are underrepresented when it comes to the quality of bilingual education offered. 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. Schhneider, Martinez, and Owens (2006) argued that “by sharing a cultural identity with their teachers Hispanic students might benefit by seeing someone from their own cultural background succeed” (p. 4). Sleeter (2012) believed that equity pedagogy is marginalized because many teachers do not have a clear idea of how the theoretical principles of this approach can be implemented. Moreover, increasing the number of such teachers will indirectly help the government in achieving its aim of education the non-English-speaking Hispanic students.

Program participation

One of the factors or challenges affecting bilingual education programs in the district is program participation. There are middle school students who are not in the bilingual program because their parents have denied them the chance to participate (Batalova & McHugh, 2010). In the absence of legislations that mandate participation, parents base their decisions on little information (Batalova & McHugh, 2010). This is evident when one takes into consideration the number of non-English-speaking Hispanic students enrolled in public schools in a given district and the number enrolled in the bilingual programs (Rossell, 2010). It is worth noting that the enrollment is not 100% despite that it is necessary for the students to be enrolled in these programs (Batalova & McHugh, 2010). According to the rural Texas school district reports and Texas Academic Excellence Indicator System (AEIS), the enrollment is below 60% in public schools. The minority of students are LEP, ELL, and ESL at the middle school level. In spite of the benefits these students stand to benefit from the bilingual program, they are barred by their parents (Texas Education Agency, 2012).

Parents are concerned that if they participate in the bilingual program, their culture will be negatively affected (Texas Education Agency, 2012). This challenge can be addressed by creating awareness among the parents on the benefits of the bilingual programs for the students. The school district must endeavor to create programs that preserve the cultural diversity of non-English speaking student (Texas Education Agency, 2012). The teachers must train on how to involve the various stakeholders in the program (Texas Education Agency, 2010). Parents must understand that such programs are for the benefit of their children and their future prospects. English is a global preferred language and it is a must to have proficiency in it if one wants to succeed (Batalova & McHugh, 2010). A country will prosper if its citizens are well educated (Texas Education Agency, 2012). As far as the fear of cultural demise is concerned, parents of the non-English-speaking Hispanic students must understand that their adamant nature can spoil their children’s future and also be a deterrent to the nation’s progress (Batalova & McHugh, 2010).

Funding

Rossell (2010) explained that the cost of the bilingual program to the state of Texas is more than ELL alternative programs. It is estimated that the program can cost between $200 and $700 per student per year (Rossell, 2010, p. 11). The implication is that students must pay more to acquire education. However, special intervention funds have been allocated to disabled students. As a result, funding educational institutions assists schools with efficient teaching strategies. Teachers can enroll for multicultural training when monthly allocations are budgeted for Hispanic education. Thus, educational funding facilitates teaching strategies and student’s performance.

The figures from the Texas Education Agency suggest that funding bilingual and ESL programs are expensive. The authorities use about $1.2 billion for all bilingual/ESL programs. The budget translates to approximately $253 per student. Cost is an important factor in bilingual education. It is especially significant in cases where the federal and state budgets are operating on a deficit (Faltis, 2010, p. 90). Rural Texas ISD general fund for the Bilingual/ESL education is $3,081,379 and the total required for each student is $3823. Only such expenses are covered that pertain to teaching materials that the students need. Moreover, the student will need the materials regardless of the program enrolled. The funds given to the schools in the district are enough to supply materials for 806 students. The per-student amount is very low compared to the amount spent by the United States government on school students. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the US government spends $11,184 for every student (NCES, 2013). The following chart depicts the expenditures incurred by the US government on students’ education:

Total expenditures per student
Figure: Total expenditures per student. 

Faltis (2010) further noted that “cost-effectiveness is especially important to the taxpayers and to schools, since it frees funding for other priorities in education and may prevent taxes from being increased or a teacher from losing pay” (p. 90). If the government is giving a helping hand to the non-English-speaking Hispanic students, it should be in totality. There is no point in providing financial aid that is insufficient (Faltis, 2010). This would create problems rather than solving them (US Department of Education, 2008). It is understood that the government allocates funding to various schools based on the available budget. Efforts should be made to increase such budget.

Availability of materials. It is important to assess whether or not the fund is actually supplying materials to each student within the program. 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 for the materials may not be a priority for the school (Batalova & McHugh, 2010). The school may prioritize other programs such as NCLB meaning that little or no attention is paid to the bilingual program (Batalova & McHugh, 2010). This will negatively affect the quality of the education availed to the students. This issue is again dependent on the funding by the government. An increase in the funding will solve the prevailing scarcity of study material. It is necessary for the students to have appropriate study material in order to understand the instructions being given to them. As a result, availability of materials enhances student’s performance in a multicultural environment. Consequently, equity pedagogy is influenced by available materials and teaching methods. Thus, availability of materials facilitates the development of classroom learning methods to ensure educational attainment of non-English speaking Hispanic students.

Parent involvement

Previous research revealed that parent involvement in their ward’s education enhanced student’s performance. Consequently, parent’s inclusion in the student’s social development is a component of equality pedagogy. Teaching strategies can be sustained when parents encourage, monitor, and test their ward’s learning process. As a result, parent involvement and equity pedagogy support student’s performance in a multicultural environment. Parental involvement 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. Sheffer suggested most bilingual students’ parents are not aware of the bilingual program. To determine their knowledge a survey was carried out to find out how many parents understands the program entirely. Sheffer found that in Texas, only 20% of parents had a full understanding of the program. According to Sheffer (2003), teachers concurred that there is a communication gap between the various stakeholders. Some of the parents are not involved because of immigration problems. Sheffer also noted that some parents on the other hand do 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 support needed from the parents.

Parents are means of structuring their child’s future. They have a very crucial role to play in their child’s growth and conduct. During the days when schooling was considered to be accessible only to the children of the opulent, those who were not privileged enough to go to school, remained at home and helped their parents in daily chores. Such children used to emulate their parents in their deeds and conduct. It has been observed that children, who have their parents’ guidance and participation in their school activities, achieve more in life as compared to those who totally depend on their schools (Jeynes, 2011). It will not be contradictory to state that parents and schools have an equal effect on the development of children. Both have an important role to play and are links to a child’s future. Even if one of the links is missing, it will have a negative impact on the child. Parents can get involved in their child’s upbringing by keeping a constant vigil on his/her school work. They can also visit his/her school on occasions such as parent-teacher meetings, annual days, sport events, social get-togethers, etc. All this will help in developing confidence in the child and also a sense of safety and protection.

Financial resources of parents

Financial resources mean the income of the parents. If the income of parents is good, they can afford to provide extra study material to their child at home. There is a lot of referencing material required by children and as such parents earning better can provide their child with books, periodicals, magazines, etc. Technological devices like the computer play an important role in a child’s standard of education. Parents earning handsomely can provide their child with a computer at home so that he/she can complete online projects. Thus, the financial resources of parents facilitate the student’s learning process. As a result, parents would avoid schools without a balanced teacher student ratio. Consequently, teaching strategies support educational attainment for non-English speaking Hispanic students when their parents are financially stable. According to the Declaration on Education Act, education is a privilege for every child, however, not all parents have the financial capacity to assist their children. Thus, equity pedagogy and financial resources of parents improve the learning process.

Education level of the parents

Education level of parents influences the quality of the student’s performance. As a result, parents with higher educational achievement will understand the influence of an effective teaching strategy on student’s performance. Consequently, they will sustain their children’s social development with moral and financial support. Thus, equity pedagogy and education level of parents enhance student’s performance in a multicultural environment. If parents are educated, they ought to understand the importance of education and encourage their child (Batalova & McHugh, 2010). Uneducated or less educated parents will not be able to understand the importance of molding their child’s career from the early school days. On the contrary, well-educated parents will understand that for achieving success and objectives, the foundation of their child should be strong.

Poverty

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 who 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 be educationally disadvantaged.

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). The United States Census Bureau (2010) reported 10 states where the rate of child poverty increased by about 20%. Texas was one of these states. Out of the 8,898 students in rural Texas ISD, 7,527 are economically disadvantaged (Texas Education Agency, 2012). Macartney (2011) stated that “children who live in poverty, especially young children, are likely than their peers to have cognitive and behavioral difficulties, to complete fewer years of education, and, as they grow up, to experience more years of unemployment” (p. 1). The selected South East Texas city is projected to have an increase of 73% in the Hispanic race. The number of White residents will decline by about 6.81%, while the African American residents will remain stable at 40.31% (Zandt, 2012, p. 2). The increase in Hispanics will affect the school district, bringing in more Hispanic students that are non-English-speakers. Teachers and administrators will need to know how to accommodate these student’s needs. The level of educational attainment for any child is based on his or her income status. Consequently, any financial support from parents, relatives, or friends is based on their income level. As a result, when the disposable income of a household is high, poverty level is reduced. Thus, poverty level and equity pedagogy influence student’s performance in a multicultural environment. Consequently, parents can afford to enroll their children in good schools if they have the financial capacity to pay their school fees.

Use of language

Previous literatures revealed that language barriers affect student’s performance in a multicultural environment. As a result, students with different racial backgrounds perform poorly if the teaching strategy is ineffective. Teaching strategies and classroom techniques mitigate the effects of language barriers. Consequently, special intervention programs to improve the use of English enhance student’s cognitive reasoning in a multicultural environment. Thus, parents, teachers, and students facilitate the use of English in a multicultural environment. The student should be able to use native language as well as English to understand the meaning of words that will help in comprehension. Hasson (2000) discussed how language in different generations evolves throughout the immigrant families. Hasson provided 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 home language and the language used by the people around him or her (Davis, 2007). In the third generation, the individual is a monolingual who uses native language. The latter is the dominant language (Payne, 2005).

The parents noticed that the children are gravitating more toward the English language, and they fear the loss of their native language. As a result, parents discourage from English specking courses and programs. According to Farruggio (2010), Hispanic preservation is important to immigrant parents because it strengthens family unity for survival. Parents associate the loss of Spanish among their US-schooled children with a potential diminution of parental authority and a disruption of cultural values. Most parents in the study by Farrugio were concerned that their children were losing their Spanish language. Four of the parents were of the view that the issue needs to be addressed with a sense of urgency (Farrugio, 2010: pp. 7, 14). The rural Texas school district 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. The implication is that strategies should be put in place to encourage parents in rural Texas school district to enroll their children into the program to address equity pedagogy challenges. The scenario is vividly illustrated in Table 2 below:

Table 2: Middle School LEP Denial Accountability

School Grade 6 Grade 7 Grade 8
First M.S. 6 13 0
Second M.S 18 3 1
Third M.S. 22 17 4
Total 46 33 5

The History of Bilingual Education Programs in Texas

Overview

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)

The case is an important precedent in this field. It 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 judgment made by the court was beneficial to the bilingual program. Guidelines were formulated to address the needs of learners with limited English skills. The aim of the guidelines was 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 to provide quality education. In the process, the teachers will avoid legal pitfalls that may derail the implementation of the programs.

Theories and Student Learning

Krashen and other theorists

There are several theories explaining the learning of the second language among the students. Theories presented in chapter 1 will be presented in detail in chapter two. The Krashen’s (2003) Theory of Second Language Acquisition has two independent systems of second language performance. These are the acquired system and the learned system (Schultz, 2007). The acquisition-learning hypothesis of Krashen’s theory suggests that an interaction between the students and the target language (here, English) is necessary in order to achieve its complete acquisition. The same issue has been raised by Broom (2011). He suggests that second language (here, English) can be better understood if it is used in interactions within the classroom. He 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 are as analyzed below:

  1. 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.
  2. The second issue is classroom differences. To this end, scholars theorized that students may be ignored in a multicultural environment. 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, the quality of education they receive and their level of comprehension will be negatively affected.
  3. The third is the impact of instructions given. This will include the instructions given in both the native language and the English language.
  4. In some cases, the scholars note that there can be cultural resentment concerning the different languages being taught. Consequently, the comprehension of the non-native language may be affected. This means 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 students 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. Of particular importance is the type of relationship the teacher has developed with the student. Vygotsky explained the teacher’s responsibility and surrounding in the 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 (Holland, 2006). In line with this theory, Hakuta (2000) is of the opinion that using a language (English) as a medium of instructions is different from the ‘Basic Interpersonal Communicative Skills’. He suggests that a language can be better understood if the teachers communicate with their students (here, non-English-speaking Hispanic students) in the same language.

With respect to the needs of the rural Texas school district, it is necessary to give special attention to students who do not speak English. The special attention will ensure that the language used in instruction does not become a barrier to comprehension. The teacher should develop a working relationship with all students, which will make the learning environment conducive for all participants. 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 first is to identify the variables that correlate with the successful teaching of diversity; that is with what students learn. The second is to identify pedagogical factors that contribute to student resentment to learning about the history and/or contemporary situation of disaffected groups (Holland, 2006, p. 188).The scholar provides an insight into the resentment that students have towards the course content.

It is crucial for the non-English-speaking Hispanic students to understand the basics of English language before they are able to understand the instructions given by their teachers (in English). It is a common saying that, “Practice makes a man perfect”. This saying fits appropriately in the case of the non-English-speaking Hispanic students. A simple example of children learning their mother tongue would be appropriate to cite here. No one teaches them to speak their mother tongue but since that is the language they hear they grasp it and start understanding the messages (in their mother tongue) as well. Similarly, if teachers interact with their students in English only, the students will gradually start understanding the messages. Krashen’s theory of second language emphasized the significance of equity pedagogy in the student’s performance. Equity pedagogy combines teacher strategies, instructional materials, classroom activities and a multicultural setting to improve the learning process. Consequently, the features of Krashen’s theory include the acquisition-learning hypothesis, input hypothesis, monitor hypothesis, natural order hypothesis and the affective filter hypothesis. As a result, the success of equity pedagogy on the student’s performance can be evaluated with Krashen’s theory. Educationists can use the acquisition-learning hypothesis to test teaching strategies in a multicultural environment. Consequently, the monitor, input, and the affective filter hypothesis support the standardized measurement of student’s performance.

Annabelle Nelson’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 an ideal model to understand the issues revolving around teaching non-English-speaking Hispanic students given that they are taught in a multicultural context. According to Nelson (1998), the learning wheel model represents intelligence and helps teachers to plan lessons to cater for learners from different cultural backgrounds. 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 intelligence (Nelson, 1998). The wheel is designed to meet individual differences of the learners. The figure below represents the learning wheel as envisaged by Nelson (1998)

The Learning Wheel
Figure 1: The Learning Wheel

According to Nelson (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 for the needs of learners from varying cultural backgrounds. With reference to this study, the need of the students (the non-English-learning Hispanic students) is to learn English. As such, the teachers should create lessons and units while considering the English proficiency skills of their students. Nelson (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 intelligences in the proposed model. The wheel above, together with the accompanying five intelligences, can be used by the teachers to construct a mind map. For instance, a group of teachers can collaborate in order to develop a curriculum for non-English-speaking Hispanic students. They can use the ‘mind map’ strategy to come up with a curriculum. The figure below vividly illustrates how the wheel can be used to create a mind map:

The Learning Wheel and the Mind Map
Figure 2: The Learning Wheel and the Mind Map

The theoretical foundation of this study will be based on Nelson’s Learning Wheel Model. The model will be used because teaching non-English-speaking Hispanic students takes place within a multicultural setting. It takes into account the differences among the students and assists teachers to come up with lesson plans that benefit students from other cultures. Additionally, the model appreciates that there are differences in the way students from different cultural backgrounds process information. Understanding conceptual, practical, technical, and creative intelligences of students from different cultural backgrounds as presented by Nelson (1998) will help teachers in rural Texas school district to plan lessons to meet the needs of non-English-speaking Hispanic students in the district. Annabelle’s learning wheel model revealed that student’s performance can be achieved using different learning methods. She emphasized that total dimension learning can be achieved in a multicultural environment. As a result, the agents of change must combine different wheels of learning. The agents of change include teachers, educators, communicators, parents, mentors, leaders, and school authorities. Consequently, the method can be associated with movement, teaching, cognitive reasoning, art, imagery, and classroom activities. Thus, the wheel theory relates to equity pedagogy because it controls, monitors, and evaluates learning strategies in a multicultural environment. As a result, teachers can assist non-English speaking Hispanic students with effective teaching strategies.

Teaching ELLs. For a middle school level student who does not understand English, it becomes difficult to comprehend the teaching instructions. The problem becomes all the more difficult for ELLs when they are expected to learn what the other students are learning. In addition, they are expected to learn “academic English,” the language of instruction. A student is expected to learn how to relate events and narrate them to others. They are also expected to compare things and justify choices, and know the different inflections and forms of words, and their appropriate applications. They are expected to use content-specific language in disciplines such as social studies and mathematics in an effective manner. Moreover, the students are expected to present themselves appropriately in written and spoken academic English. If one is not able to meet such expectations, they fall behind everyone else in class, record poor grades, get discouraged, and have very few occupational and educational choices. There are millions of children in the United States faced with such challenges, as evidenced by various studies in the field. One such study is the research conducted by the National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition (NCELA), which found that by 1990, one in every twenty K-12 students was an ELL. Twenty years later, the number rose to one in every nine (NCELA, 2011). The NCELA estimates that the number may even increase to one in every four in the next 15 years.

The general academic performance of ELLs is quite low (NCELA, 2011). According to, a report by the National Assessment of Education Progress in 2007, non-ELL students in fourth grade scored thirty-six points below their non-ELL counterparts (NCELA, 2011). The disparity among eighth grade students was even higher at forty-two points (August & Shanahan, 2006). The main reason for the underperformance is the lack of English proficiency among ELLs (August & Shanahan, 2006).

The main task for the teachers should be to decrease the gap in the level of English proficiency between the non-English-speaking Hispanic students and the students of English origin. Students of English origin are equipped in learning (their mother tongue), while non-English-speaking Hispanic students face learning challenges. There are certain Hispanic students who, due to socio-economic factors (hindrances), are unable to learn English at a fast pace. There is a need to pay attention to such students. It is possible that the school hours might not be enough to teach such students. As such, special classes (devoted to English learning) should be conducted after the school hours so that such students are able to gain proficiency in English. Moreover, during the school hours, other subjects need to be taught and not much time is left for English learning.

Based on available research, there are various ways to help ELLs. According to a National Literacy Panel (NLP) meta-analysis conducted by August and Shanahan (2006), if children are taught to read in their first language, they will learn how to read in English easily. Whether ELLs should be taught in their first language or in English and the native language has been a source of controversy. The NLP meta-analysis reviewed 17 studies and found that ELL students learn their second language easily when they are first taught either in their first language or in two dialects simultaneously. They find it hard to learn the language if they are instructed in the second language. Mohr and Mohr (2007) explain, “Some students lack the linguistic ability in English to express them clearly, but this does not preclude their comprehension of the material” (p. 466).

The two studies documented that to teach non-ELLs effectively, instruction models should be formulated to mitigate learning challenges (Goldenberg, 2008). Although most aspects should be similar for the two groups, when it comes to instruction, modifications are necessary for English learners. However, during the earlier stages of learning (when ELLs are learning how to join letters to form words), their progress is quite low as compared to that of non-ELLs (Goldenberg, 2008). When the requirements of the language of instruction are low, the progress of ELLs is improved. As the language and content becomes more sophisticated, instructional modifications become necessary (August & Shanahan, 2006; Genesee, Lindholm-Leary, Saunders, & Christian, 2006). Teaching ELLs in a multicultural environment come with different challenges. However, educationists have employed effective strategies to mitigate these challenges. As a result, teaching ELLs facilitate student’s performance in a multicultural environment. In a multicultural environment, students possess different racial, cultural and social backgrounds, however, these attributes influence social development. As a result, instructional materials facilitate teaching strategies in a multicultural classroom. Using the standardized teaching guidelines, educators can observe, evaluate, and revise the significance of equity pedagogy to educational attainment.

Bilingual Education from an International Perspective

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 parents by sending materials home in both English and their native tongue. The programs help parents understand what their child is learning in school. The parents may take interest in learning English (Kalia, 2007).

Currently, the world is engulfed in fear of war and civil unrest. Selected countries have long spells of unrest especially in the developing world. However, the effect of war on education has been passively mentioned in various studies (Borghans & Heijke, 2005; Fuchs & Wößmann, 2007). Davies (2005) takes an in-depth look into the effects of war on education and the ways in which education contributes towards or propagates wars. The study argues that education creates divisions (religious, ethnic, status) which make some people feel inferior (Lindahl & Cain, 2012).The root of this is selective application of education, distortion of curricula, creation of fear, and competition. She reiterates that this may not be obvious to curriculum developers. However, continued emphasis in media, and at the society level makes education seem like a demigod (Lindahl & Cain, 2012).

Dixon (2005) stated, “The Singapore government established a bilingual education policy. Although the prime minister of this new nation determined that only mastery of the English language would 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 enrolled in English medium schools. This has seen an increase in the number of English medium schools and decline in learning other languages. In 1983, the government passed a law that required students to be taught in English. According to Baoren (2011), the goals of bilingual programs in USA and China are relatively similar. Baoren points out those bilingual programs help students in developing fulfilling, productive, and purposeful lives. In addition, teachers should be retrained to assist non-English- speaking students adequately.

However, Davies (2005), who looks at it from a positive and negative point of view (Carpenter & Hughes, 2011), empirically proves that views of this nature do not solve the underlying problems. Additionally, Aucoin (2011) digresses by saying that this view is archaic. His study on the globalization and education impact on war, suggests that time has come for each person to have quality education. However, the study states clearly that advancement of knowledge societies should be the concern of governments. Rather, governments should not focus on knowledge economics since this creates divides and hence sentiments towards educated segments.

Davies (2005) points out positive aspects such as global education citizenship and peace education initiatives. The study outlines initiatives that the author finds possibly useful in quelling the fear of the educated. However, these initiatives may not be universally applicable according to Carpenter and Hughes (2011). However, it is evident that Davies (2005) laments the fact that war and aggression will never cease in the world. This means that education may continue to be threatened or it may continue to threaten peace in the world.

Although many international organizations have been trying to enact universal education through LLL, majority of countries have disseminated national LLLs (Jallabe & Mora, 2001). They are configured to make the countries more competitive. This includes European Union (EU) and United States (US). The two main objectives of LLL are social and economic. However, in countries where precedence over the proposed LLL has been overlooked, there are other priorities. This includes solving unemployment problems, labor market development, and career development. This is similar to the situation in the United States (Carpenter & Hughes, 2011). In Canada according to a study by Aucoin (2011), policies tend to be geared towards nationalization. However, there is a relaxed adherence to LLL.

Lifelong learning in the education sector benefits nations that have increasingly seen the need for universal education (Lindahl & Cain, 2012). The disadvantage with LLL is that there are countries that are barely able to meet the needs of the basic education, let alone other issues like health care and infrastructure developments (Jallabe & Mora, 2001, p. 369). Making these countries take on LLL exposes them to financial difficulties. Learning on a globalized scale has various effects on different countries. With the practice, demography change and globalization are seen to determine the education system and its influence in the lives of the individuals (Green, 2002).

Evidently, human capital formation is the central theme in the dissemination of knowledge (Green 2002). However, it has taken an economic and national dimension (Jallabe & Mora, 2001). Although this may be the formula for solving national, economic, and political problems, it does not auger well in the globalization of education (Aucoin, 2011). Production and use of human capital should not have one goal (Borghans and Heijke 2005). Additionally, it should reflect the need to have a safer world (Davies, 2005). According to Borghans and Heijke (2005), the growing need for knowledge, labor market uncertainties, and complicated ways of acquiring education (Aucoin, 2011) requires explicit investigation into production and use of human capital. This is because there is an economic dimension to it. The two echo earlier studies by Green (2002), Jallabe and Mora (2001). Bilingual education from an international perspective assist teachers with a comparative knowledge of educational framework, teaching strategies, language, pattern, and practices as it relates to different geographical locations. As a result, the policy, practice, and controversy surrounding equity pedagogy are evaluated. Bilingual students can effectively develop language patterns to suit a multicultural environment. However, most non-English speaking Hispanic students are affected by language barriers. Thus, teachers understand bilingual structures from an international perspective to mitigate the learning challenges in a multicultural classroom.

The National Education Association and other Studies on distribution of Bilingual Education Programs

The National Education Association (NEA) provided guidelines on how to meet the needs of ELL students and improve their academic success. The rural Texas school district article outlines six states that have 60% ELL students. Arizona, California, Texas, New York, Illinois, and Alabama had a 300% increase in ELL students. The NEA highlighted how these students are being treated and the gap is restricting the student’s achievement. According to the article, the students are receiving instructions different from those of other students in the school. The instructions received by these students may be poor considering that schools do not prioritized bilingual education programs. The discrepancy is significant to the current study because it identifies how policies in different countries affect students.

Batalova and McHugh (2010) provided charts and maps demonstrating that Spanish is the most widely spoken language in the ELL students’ home. Batalova and McHugh (2010) showed the percentage of student’s home nations and those students who used English within their homes. Rocha (2008) revealed that Hispanic population is increasing at a higher rate in the United States. 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 of students from this group are part of our public school system. Studies such as those done on NCLB Act are bringing more attention to the possible inequities among minority students. The National Education Association studies regulate teaching curriculum to enhance student’s performance. Consequently, the association monitors, evaluates, and recommends various classroom techniques to improve learning. As a result, teachers align their teaching methodologies with the NEA practice. The NEA studies correlate with equity pedagogy because it evaluates teaching techniques based on student’s performance. As a result, teaching strategies are reviewed to suit a multicultural classroom. The NEA studies relate to the current study because it provides information concerning teaching methodologies for non-English speaking Hispanic students.

Hispanic Population in Rural Texas School District

The current study is addressing the provision of education to non- English-speaking Hispanic students in rural Texas school district. 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 selected city in Southeast 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. The rural Texas 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. Thus, the primary objective of public education in the community is to meet the educational needs of diverse population (Rural Texas School District, 2010). The number of Hispanic students at district and state level is high. See Table 2.3

Table 3: Rural Texas Independent School District

Count Count
District 9,047 State 4,824,778
Students By Ethnicity n % N %
African American 4,368 48.3 676,523 14
Hispanic 3,820 42.2 2,342,680 48.6
White 322 3.6 1,607,212 33.3
Native American 14 0.2 18,890 0.4
Asian/Pacific Islander 523 5.8 179,473 3.7

The cultural diversity of the school district captured the attention of the researcher due to the mixed practices adopted at the center. According to New America Foundation (2012), the number of Caucasian students in the district as of 2011 was 31.2% as compared to 33.3% in 2010. African American students constituted 12.9% of the total of students in 2011, compared to 14.0% in 2010. Hispanic students increased to 50.3% of the total of students in 2011, compared to 48.6% in 2010. The percentage of the other students was American Indian (0.5% in 2011, 0.4% in 2010) and Asian (3.6% in 2011, 3.7% in 2010).

According to Texas Education Agency (2012), Second Middle School had 457 students during the 2010-2011 school years. Out of these, 309 were African American, 123 were Hispanic and 25 were LEP students (Texas Education Agency, 2010). As a result, the student teacher ratio did not accommodate non-English speaking Hispanic students. The Third Middle School had 763 students within the same period (Texas Education Agency, 2010). Among these, there were 264 African American students, 407 were Hispanic and 92 were Limited English proficient students (Texas Education Agency, 2010). As a result, the teacher student ratio required adjustment to accommodate non-English speaking Hispanics. Given this scenario, the researcher was interested in discovering the difference between equity pedagogy and teaching non-English-speaking Hispanic students.

The study focuses on Hispanic students in the school district and not the students from other cultural backgrounds. The reason for this is that the number of Hispanic students in the district has been increasing over the past several years: 46.3% in 2007, 47.2% in 2008, 47.9% in 2009, and 48.6% in 2010 (New America Foundation, 2012). The number of students from other cultural backgrounds have decreased or increased only marginally within the same period.

According to Webley (2011), the 2010 population census indicated that there are about four million Hispanic students enrolled in American public schools. A large number of these students do not speak English as a first language. Although the study conducted by Hakimzadeh (2007) in 2007 revealed that 93% of Hispanic individuals born outside the United States of America do not speak English at home, the figure cannot be relied upon bearing in mind that the proportions must have changed since that time. Nonetheless, it is necessary to point out some of the latest findings on the number of Hispanic students who can actually speak English because over the years, the standards of education have made it difficult to learn English. More so, today’s society has become liberal and allows the Hispanic community to maintain its customs and language. In 2006, Galindo and Reardon conducted a study that showed that 30% of kindergarten students drawn from Hispanic backgrounds were unable to communicate well in English. The kindergarteners were categorized as non-proficient in oral English (Galindo & Reardon, 2006).

With the current rate of Hispanic’s population growth in Texas, it is projected that this ethnic group will be the largest within 50 years. This increase in the size of 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 either be bilingual are learn strategies for students to learn and comprehend lessons taught in the classroom. Roekel (2011) states:

There is a pressing need to close the achievement gap between ELL students and their native English-speaking peers. Providing professional development opportunities for general education teachers at every stage in their career is a key step toward ensuring great teachers in great public school for all students (p.3).

The curriculum will include Hispanic 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. The current study correlates equity pedagogy with the Hispanic population in the rural Texas school district because it provides insightful knowledge of the area of study. As a result, policymakers and educationists can improve the current situation using an effective teaching strategy. Consequently, the teacher student ratio can be adjusted using the above figures.

Dominant Native Language among ELL in 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 students homes” (Batalova & McHugh, 2010, p. 1). See Figure 1

Top Ten Spoken Languages in ELL Students Homes
Figure 3: Top Ten Spoken Languages in ELL Students Homes

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 who speak Spanish only. However, it is important to note that ELL’s not only consists of Hispanic-speaking students but also other languages such as Vietnamese. The map below shows Spanish is the main language spoken by ELL students in the United States.

Spanish Language among ELL Students
Figure 4: Spanish Language among ELL Students

This increase in the number of Hispanic-speaking students in the country is affecting teaching especially, concerning ELL. This is given that the teachers may concentrate so much on the needs of the Hispanic-speaking students because 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 necessary to deal with a class made up of students from varying cultural backgrounds. Because of the large number of Hispanic speaking ELL students, the federal government can hire teachers from Mexico as a short-term solution (US Department of Education, 2008). The population figures revealed that non-English speaking Hispanic students dominate multicultural classrooms in the United States. Thus, the need for teaching strategy assessment and evaluation will improve equity pedagogy and students’ performance. Consequently, the research can evaluate the recommendations from the population analysis to improve the current study.

Multiculturalism and Public Education in USA

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 (Rodriguez, 2011). 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 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).

Importance of Multicultural Education and Equity Pedagogy in Higher Education

Multicultural education can be related to a melting pot. In a melting pot, different ingredients are mixed together and heated until the mixture boils. By the time it boils, the ingredients have assimilated to form one single compound. Similarly, multicultural education helps in assimilating students from different cultural backgrounds and different mother tongues. Multicultural education helps in augmenting the output of students because there are several options available for finishing a job. Due to the participation and interaction of students, it also encourages and helps in building team culture among the students. By using the various options available to finish a job, students are able to increase their problem-solving capabilities. Since there is a team effort, positive relations are built among the students from different cultural backgrounds. A better aspect is that cultural prejudices among students are removed by such a program (Ameny-Dixon, n.d.).

Equity pedagogy is a vital part of multicultural education. It promotes equal participation of children throughout the nation, irrespective of any socio-economic factors, caste, creed, and culture. Equity pedagogy is capable of changing the school environment. Teachers are able to use the ‘hidden curriculum’ for the betterment of the students with diverse cultural backgrounds.

Multiculturalism not only targets ethnicity, but also age, gender, religion, disability, and economic backgrounds. Eteokleous and Christodoulou (2010) underscored this point by arguing that equity pedagogy should go beyond cultural diversity. With the increasing cultural differences, society acknowledges that changes in the educational system are inevitable (Webley, 2011). With the population of minority students in public schools rising, the curriculum should change to reflect this and cater to a larger audience with varied educational needs (Webley, 2011). For example, the Texas bilingual program had an increase of 448, 917 students in the 2008-09 school years, translating to 84% increase from the 1992-2006 school years (Mentze, 2010). In a multicultural environment, students comprised diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds. As a result, the teaching strategies must be aligned to accommodate all aspects of the learning process. Some students may withdraw from class activity if they perceive themselves as minorities. Consequently, classroom strategies must be cordial, uniform, and clear. Thus, multiculturalism and equity pedagogy relates to the current study because it facilitates teaching strategies in a classroom setting.

Conclusions

The literature review reveals that 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. The recognition helps students and teachers to respect the differences that come with other cultures (Rodriguez, 2011). Such understanding also helps students to be more open to different learning styles and techniques and to be more willing in learning about other cultures.

Chapter Summary

In this chapter, the researcher critically reviewed literature that to be found within 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 legislations 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 chapter provided an idea of how data was collected, how data was analyzed, and the limitations of the research methodology adopted.

Research Methodology

Introduction

In chapter two, the reader was provided with a critical review of literature that exists in this field. The aim of the critical review was to locate the current study within the larger field by identifying the link between the current study and others that have been conducted. In chapter three, an analysis of the steps that will be taken to collect and analyze data for the study is provided. The chapter is divided into several sections, which include the problem statement, research design, research questions, research sample, population, data collection, data analysis, and methodological limitations.

Significance of the Study

The study will address the education of non-English-speaking Hispanic students at the middle school level. The general problem is that lack of training and awareness has negatively affected the implementation of equity pedagogy in most public schools in the United States (Slavin, 2006). Unless steps are taken to improve teacher and administrator training for second language learning, non-English speaking Hispanic students will continue to perform below average and fail to garner the benefits of a complete education (Porteous, 2013). The purpose of this dissertation is to the purpose of the study is to explore the link between equity pedagogy and teaching non-English speaking Hispanic students at the middle school level with regard to implementing equity pedagogy and multicultural education.

Research Methodology

The research will include an exploratory case study of selected Southeast Texas rural independent school district. The research techniques employed are sampling, collecting data, and analyzing this data. Strauss &Corbin (1990) point out that it is not easy to select a specific research method when conducting a qualitative study. The presupposition is supported by the fact that all methods have their pros and cons. A case study is one of the qualitative research designs used by researchers. According to Zikmund (2010), a case study is a confined system that can refer to an organization, an event, a person, or even a location. A case study is used when a researcher wants to comprehend the dynamics of phenomena in a particular setting. The study is a qualitative exploratory multiple case study. In a case study, the researcher can use qualitative data collection techniques such as interviews, observations, and archives (Zikmund, 2010). The reasons the case study methodology was adopted are:

  1. Case studies are very effective when used in the field of developmental studies. Helping non-English speaking students to excel academically in a classroom full of English speaking students reflects a socially constructed reality that can only be understood when the social context is taken into perspective (Zikmund, 2010).
  2. The issue of educating non-English speaking students is not adequately studied. A case study analysis aids in knowledge generation crucial in formulation of theories, testing, and description (Zikmund, 2010).
  3. The current study addresses a contemporary issue, which is closely related to its particular social context. Zikmund (2010) notes that case studies are effective in addressing such situations.

The purpose of this study is to explore to explore the link between equity pedagogy and teaching non-English speaking Hispanic students at the middle school level with regard to implementing equity pedagogy and multicultural education. The research will focus on the two middle schools in rural Southeast Texas. The researcher samples teachers and administrators dealing with non-English speaking Hispanic students. The researcher will use interviews with the teachers to collect data for the study (Ader et al., 2008).

There are various limitations associated with a case study, and which are significant to the current study. For example, the case study may fail to acknowledge the dynamics of factors external to the case. The study will concentrate on internal dynamics and only those external factors that have a direct bearing on the case.

A crucial aspect of this segment is to establish a link between the chosen research methodology and the main aim of this thesis. The researcher has aimed to conduct the research in accordance with the qualitative analysis as it will highlight the grounds that provide the researcher to adopt applicable research methodology in accordance with the previous research in this area that would be chosen through a critical appraisal. This segment will further enhance the author’s understanding on how the research on implementation of equity pedagogy and multicultural education will be conducted. It will also guide the researcher about data assembly & treatment and qualitative analysis, thereby explaining the process and the limitations of this study. Qualitative research methodology will be able to address the specific problem in a better manner. The researcher will be able to involve the views of global scholars. Since the problem of teaching non-English-learning students is global, it is important to know the global perspectives of scholars about equity pedagogy and multicultural education.

Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies

The purpose of qualitative research methodology is to understand the underlying reasons and motives, whereas quantitative is used to collect primary data and simplify the results from a sample with regard to the population of interest. In qualitative research methodology, a small number of representative cases are considered, whereas in quantitative research methodology, the representative cases are large. In qualitative research methodology, an unstructured questionnaire is used to collect data, whereas quantitative research methodology uses a structured questionnaire. The data analysis method in qualitative research methodology is non-statistical because it helps in descriptive thesis, whereas in quantitative research methodology, it has to be statistical with an option to choose methods. Considering the aforementioned explanation about the differences in qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, the researcher felt it necessary to adopt the qualitative research methodology to meet the needs for this research.

Informed consent

The researcher will uphold the informed consent and confidentiality ethical standards. Before the study commences, teachers and administrators will be requested to participate in the study. Requisite permission would be sought from the school administration and consent will be obtained from the participating teachers and administrators. The researcher will inform the subjects that they have the option of accepting the request or declining to participate. They will also be informed that they have the option of dropping out of the study at any point, and it is not necessary for them to provide explanations or justifications for the same. A sample document for informing the proposed respondents can be viewed at Appendix C. 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. They will also be informed of the benefits of the study as well as any risks.

As a standard norm of qualitative research, this study would keep its passionate attention on two ethical issues that are representation of truth and confidentiality of the respondent group. The truth alignment would assist to avoid any bias and the confidentiality aspect would strengthen freedom of expression by the respondents. It is also noted that personal information will not to be disclosed to third parties without the consent of the respondents. In addition, the researcher will inform the participants that the interviews will be tape-recorded. Information about the study will be communicated to the participants both verbally during the interview and through the informed consent form. The researcher will send the forms via school mail to the teachers and administrators and acquiring due approval to use the school district’s email system. The acquired approval letter is attached in appendix d. The researcher derives the confidentiality and informed consent statements from SAS Web.

Research questions

Three research questions will guide this study. Data collection and analysis will revolve around these questions:

  1. What are the various challenges involved in training rural Texas school district teachers regarding teaching non-English-speaking Hispanic students in equity pedagogy?
  2. How do teachers and administrators in rural Texas school district perceive the challenges of teaching non-English-speaking students at middle school level?
  3. How is equity pedagogy used to address the challenges in rural Texas school district public schools?

The purpose statement includes the problems listed in the research questions and as such, they were derived from it.

Research sample and research population

The research population for this study consists of middle school teachers and administrators working with non-English speaking Hispanic students in rural Texas School district. The participants will be selected from a population of 80 middle school teachers (who teach non-English speaking Hispanic students) and administrators. The inclusion criteria for administrators will be based on the multicultural setting. Administrators evaluate teacher’s curriculum strategies in a given school thus, they can provide positive responses during the interview. As a result, administrators will form part of the research variables. Teachers utilize various classroom strategies in a multicultural setting. Thus, they will participate in the research because of their direct access to non-English speaking Hispanic students in a multicultural environment. The number of shortlisted teachers is 56, while administrators are 24 in total. Ten teachers and ten administrators will be randomly selected from the shortlisted population. If all other conditions (except the specific problem being researched) are the same, a larger sample is required in order to get the desired accuracy of results and vice versa. In the case of this research, other conditions such as the number of non-English-speaking Hispanic students, teacher-student ratio, allotted funds, etc. are not the same, a smaller sample would suffice. Random selection is important to enhance representativeness of the sample. To this end, the researcher will come up with two lists. One of the lists will comprise the 56 middle school teachers teaching non-English Hispanic students. The list will further be divided into two, listing teachers in both middle schools. The same will be done for the list of 24 administrators. It is important to divide the teachers and the administrators into two, according to the school they come from, to make sure that both middle schools are fully represented. The listing will be done using the names of the teachers.

Each of the teachers and administrators will be given a number, starting from one. There will be four different sets of numbers (for the four lists made up of teachers and administrators from both middle schools). The researcher will label plastic discs according to the numbers. The plastic discs will then be put in a jar and mixed thoroughly. Five discs will then be drawn randomly from the jar. The teacher or administrator whose number in the list corresponds to the one drawn from the jar becomes the participant. It will be ensured that all the teachers and administrators whose names are in the jar have signed the consent form for participation in the interview. The process will be repeated for all teachers and administrators from both schools.

Primary instrument of the study

Data collection

Data collection methods in qualitative research include interviews and focus groups. As a result, research interviews facilitate deeper understanding of reading skills in all disciplines. Previous literatures revealed that interviews facilitate cognitive reasoning for sensitive topics (Gill, Stewart, Treasure, & Chadwick, 2009). Thus, discussion with the interviewer will be the primary instrument for the study. Face-to-face interviews will be conducted with the teachers and the administrators selected for the study. All the face-to-face interviews will be conducted in the two schools. An appointment will be made with the participant depending on their availability. Interviews will be conducted in a room that is not occupied to reduce chances of distraction. The researcher will walk with the participant from the staffroom to the interview room, as opposed to waiting for them in the room. The aim is to establish rapport during the walk to the interview room. Once in the room, the interviewer and the interviewee will sit at a table facing each other. The participants will have the right to decline from taking part in the interview via recording. The interviewer will place a recorder at the center of the table to record the proceedings.

The interview will be conducted using an interview protocol. Participants will be requested to avoid using names (of teachers, students, and other administration staff) during the interview for privacy purposes. Instead, they will be advised to use code names during the interview. A list of the names of all the participants with their corresponding codes will be kept handy for the researcher’s reference. The researcher will ask the participants to describe their understanding about multiculturalism in the classroom. The researcher will also request the participants to provide information on the challenges they face when teaching non-English-speaking Hispanic students in the classroom. The participants will be requested to describe the challenges facing the district as far as teaching non- English-speaking Hispanic students is concerned. Copies of the interview questions used are found in appendix b. After the interview, the researcher will thank the participant for participating in the study. In order to ascertain the privacy of the respondents, a separate room will be arranged so that they can come one by one and answer the questions in complete privacy. In addition to the recorded interview, the researcher will also write down the answers given by each respondent in separate sheets. After all interviews have been conducted, the tapes and the notes will be kept under lock and key to be accessed only by the researcher to uphold the privacy of participants. In addition, it is expected that some participants may mention names of teachers, students, and other administrators during the interview. Keeping the records under lock and key will further protect the privacy of these people.

The interview, archival records, and participant’s observation would suffice the requirement of an exploratory multiple case study design. Once the participants have recorded their answers, they will not be allowed to change them. This particular issue will be mentioned in the consent letter that the participants will sign before participating. In case some of the participants do not appear for the interview, another name will be taken out from the jar and the same procedure will be followed. To triangulate the results, administrators will provide archival records of the teaching curriculum to evaluate the significance of equity pedagogy. Consequently, participant observation will be conducted on during the interview to evaluate the effectiveness of each teaching strategy. Thus, archival records, interviews and participants observation will be the primary instrument of the study.

Data analysis

The researcher accepted a qualitative approach because the literature review revealed that it would provide more insightful information on the phenomenon being studied than a quantitative methodology. Qualitative study will help the researcher to identify the problem in a transparent manner. Moreover, the views of renowned scholars will be obtained. The works of scholars such as Neuman (2003) contributed to the adoption of a qualitative research methodology. Studies conducted in this field by such scholars revealed a qualitative research methodology would provide insightful information as compared to the other qualitative methods.

A comparison between qualitative and quantitative research methods has been made in the research and considering the merits and demerits of both the methods, qualitative research was chosen. A qualitative design helps the researcher gain insight on the experience of the stakeholders in teaching of the non-English-speaking Hispanic students. The study is more exploratory, with the major aim of discovering and exploring the perceived challenges associated with equity pedagogy. More specifically, the researcher will interview the teachers in their natural setting. Qualitative research collects narrative data whereas quantitative research collects numerical data.

To this end, the researcher will rely on 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 simple descriptive analysis. Simple descriptive analysis is the description of the data gathered in a simple narrative without necessarily going into details about the link between the same and the research objectives or questions. In coding, the researcher will go through the interviews from the respondents. After the completion of the requisite interviews, the information from each respondent will be summarized and categorized. Responses with similar thematic answers will be separated (no duplicate entries will be made). Answers with different themes will be accumulated and a specific theme will be formed. It is important to consider the relation of the respondents with the research group; their perspective, characteristics, and the environment (Bradley & Devers 2007). The responses from the participants will be analyzed to determine which research question and research objective they are addressing. One major weakness of this data analysis method is that it tends to transform qualitative data into semi-quantitative data by giving it labels and tags. In this case, the qualitative data will be tagged and labeled according to the research question and research objective they address. In addition, the method is biased to some extent. It tends to leave out information that does not correspond to the themes identified by the researcher. However, a major strength of the methodology is that it helps in analyzing all themes (primary, secondary, and tertiary), which have implications on the research questions. In spite of its inability to highlight themes that are external to the research questions conclusively, the methodology is appropriate for this study. The weakness of transforming qualitative data into semi-quantitative data will be addressed by combining thematic and content analysis models (Eisner, 2011).

Thematic analysis involves organizing the data collected to identify recurrent patterns and themes. According to Eisner (2011), 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 to pick out patterns and themes related to the various research questions and objectives.

Eisner (2011) 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 collected information will be summarized and responses with similar thematic answers will be separated. The research would ensure that no duplicate entries are made. Responses with different answers will be collected separately and a joint theme will be formed. Content analysis and thematic analysis are closely related, especially in the context of the current study. Both of them are hinged on the research questions. For example, the themes are derived from the research questions formulated. On its part, the content is made up of the information gathered from the interviews, inclusive of all ideas, whether evident in the research questions or not.

Other qualitative techniques, such as simple description, were not used. The reason is that simple description may fail to provide in-depth information about the case study. Unlike the methodologies adopted for this study, simple description may fail to provide a clear link between the various aspects of the study, such as the link between the data collected and the various three research questions.

Methodological Assumptions

Assumptions of the Case Study Methodology. The following are some of the assumptions that are related to the case study methodology used specifically, as well as those related to the study in general:

  1. 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 effects on the study outcome.
  2. Non-English-speaking Hispanic students are faced with challenges in learning English language and other subjects in the school.
  3. 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.
  4. Teachers play a very significant role in educating non- English-speaking Hispanic students.
  5. Apart from teachers, other stakeholders such as the students, school administrators, and members of the community also play a significant role in educating non- English speaking Hispanic students.
  6. Equity pedagogy is an important policy adopted by schools in addressing the needs of non- English speaking Hispanic students.
  7. Stakeholders in the education sector are aware that non- English-speaking students face challenges in learning English and other subjects in school.
  8. The problems and challenges facing rural Texas school district involve the construction of solutions through community-developed knowledge. Taking into consideration the views and opinions of members of the community is important in achieving viable and sustainable solutions.

Triangulation, Credibility and Dependability of the Methodology Used

Triangulation, credibility, and dependability are some of the crucial elements of a qualitative study, such as an investigative case study. The three issues will be addressed in the current study as follows:

Triangulation. Triangulation is a common procedure in qualitative studies used to improve the validity of the research. As a result, the study will use interviews, archival record and participant observations to triangulate the research findings. The participants will provide responses during the interview while administrators will release archival records of the school curriculum and students performance. Consequently, the researcher will analyse participant observation to complete the three triangulation methods for the research study.

Credibility. Credibility is another important aspect of qualitative study. The credibility of a given study enhances its trustworthiness. To address this aspect, the research will avoid conflict of interest. Consequently, the research study will be based on the principles of research ethics. Consequently, the triangulation method will improve the validity of the research. The coding analysis will be supervised by three analysts to avoid falsification and researcher bias. Secondly, the researcher will consult with her chair and committee members. Each chapter of the dissertation will be submitted to the instructor and committer for corrections and approval. The supervisor and the committee members are experienced individuals in this field.

Dependability. The research results will not be generalized as a qualitative study. Consequently, the research findings cannot be imported or transferred from another research study. The findings of the research will be treated as independent variables regardless the outcome. However, changes in the research findings will be reported in the research discussions. Thus, assumptions concerning the research will be avoided to improve the research validity. The research findings will be confirmed with various aspects of a qualitative research. As a result, external auditors will examine the research methods, data collection and analysis to eliminate potential distortions.

Conclusion

An exploratory case study will be used for this study. Participants will be sampled from a total of 80 (56, 24) teachers and administrators in the school district. Random selection will be used to select 10 teachers and 10 administrators for the study. Data will be analyzed using coding, thematic and content analysis. It was found that the case study has several limitations. Among others, the case study has problems to do with conformability and transferability. The most recent data will be used in the study to address the problem of transferability. Conformability will be addressed by making sure all the information used by the researcher is backed by data (Eisner, 2011).

Summary

In this chapter, the researcher took the reader through the steps that will be followed in collecting and analyzing data for the study. The population sample was identified as 56 teachers and 24 administrators dealing with non-English speaking Hispanic students in rural Texas school district. A sample size of 10 teachers and 10 administrators will be selected. The data analysis techniques to be used were highlighted. To this end, the use of coding, thematic analysis, and content analysis in the study was justified. The scope, limitations, and delimitations of the methodology were highlighted. In chapter 4, the findings made in the study will be presented. These findings were made using the methodology highlighted in this chapter.

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Appendices

Appendix (a): Confidentiality Statement

Confidentiality Statement

Appendix (b): Participants’ Questions

  1. How long have you been teaching?
  2. What other languages do you speak other than English?
  3. What are the biggest obstacles you face in teaching non-English-speaking Hispanic students?
  4. Do you think the district has addressed the challenges facing equity pedagogy?
  5. Is language proficiency different between students attending the bilingual program and those attending English only classes.
  6. What strategies are put in place to ensure the success of ELL, ESL and LEP students?
  7. What type of training do teachers and administers receive with regard to non-English-speaking Hispanic students?
  8. What is your perspective about the growing population of Hispanic students in the district?
  9. Is there an academic achievement gap in the bilingual program?
  10. Do you think the district needs to improve the bilingual program at the secondary level?

Appendix (c): Informed Consent: Participants 18 years of age and older

Dear _______________________________________,

My name is and I am a student at the University of working on a doctoral degree. I am doing a research study entitled Educating non-English-speaking Hispanic Students on the Middle School Level. The purpose of the research study is to explore the link between equity pedagogy and teaching non-English speaking Hispanic students and how it affects student’s performance.

Your participation will involve answering questions concerning challenges you face teaching non-English speaking Hispanic students in the classroom. Each interviewee is expected to answer each question to the best of their ability and truthfully. The interview is designed to be approximately 30-45 minutes. Notes will be taken during the interview along with an audio tape of the interview for help with dialogue. You can decide to be a part of this study or not. Once you start, you can withdraw from the study at any time without any penalty or loss of benefits. The results of the research study may be published but your identity will remain confidential and your name will not be made known to any outside party.

In this research, there are no foreseeable risks.

Although there may be no direct benefit to you, a possible benefit from your being part of this study is the study will help me understand how to provide tools necessary in the classroom to help with teaching bilingual students. This will not only benefit the teachers and students but this will help with parent involvement. There is no cost for participating in this study.

For questions about your rights as a study participant, or any concerns or complaints, please contact the University.

As a participant in this study, you should understand the following:

  1. You may decide not to be part of this study or you may want to withdraw from the study at any time. If you want to withdraw, you can do so without any problems.
  2. Your identity will be kept confidential.
  3. The researcher has fully explained the nature of the research study and has answered all of your questions and concerns.
  4. If interviews are done, they may be recorded. If they are recorded, you must give permission for the researcher, to record the interviews. You understand that the information from the recorded interviews may be transcribed. The researcher will develop a way to code the data to assure that your name is protected.
  5. Data will be kept in a secure and locked area. The data will be kept for three years, and then destroyed.
  6. The results of this study may be published.

By signing this form, you agree that you understand the nature of the study, the possible risks to you as a participant, and how your identity will be kept confidential. When you sign this form, this means that you are 18 years old or older and that you give your permission to volunteer as a participant in the study that is described here.

() I accept the above terms. () I do not accept the above terms. (CHECK ONE

Signature of the interviewee ______________________________ Date _____________

Signature of the researcher _______________________________ Date ____________

Appendix (d): PAISD Approval to use E-Mail

PAISD Approval to use E-Mail

Appendix (e): Wheel Council’s Letter of Approval

Wheel Council’s Letter of Approval

Appendix (f): Wheel Council’s Letter of Collaboration

Wheel Council’s Letter of Collaboration

Appendix (g): City of Port Arthur’s Letter of Collaboration

City of Port Arthur’s Letter of Collaboration

Appendix (h): Port Arthur ISD’s Letter of Collaboration

Port Arthur ISD’s Letter of Collaboration

Appendix (I): Permission to Use Premises

Permission to Use Premises

Appendix (j): Middle School’s Permission to use Premises

Middle School’s Permission to use Premises

Appendix (k): Middle Schools’ Permission to use Premises

Middle Schools’ Permission to use Premises

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