Degree Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education



First Advisor

Dr. Anna Farrell

Second Advisor

Dr. Laura Wangsness Willemsen

Third Advisor

Dr. Efe Agbamu


The enrollment of English learners (ELs) in K-12 schools in the United States continues to surpass all other student groups reshaping U.S. public schools (National Center for Education Statistics, 2017). Research suggests while learning English, ELs fall behind academically, which can determine how long an EL remains in an English learner program (Wixom, 2014). Educators and leaders are faced with the challenges associated with EL education including professional development, retaining EL specialized teachers, and designing, implementing, and evaluating EL service models. Other challenges include ensuring EL access to grade-level content standards while simultaneously developing the language of the subject area. These challenges present opportunities for exploration particularly how content teachers perceive their role in educating ELs. In this case study, I examined the intersection of five high school ELA teacher academic language learning beliefs and their online practices in an urban center with a high EL student population—specifically long-term ELs. Three themes emerged from the analysis of the data gathered from semi-structured, in-person interviews, review of teacher on-line practices, and member checking: 1) The gap between theory and practice persists; 2) ESL pedagogical professional development is insufficient; and 3) Teacher beliefs and practices are intertwined. Study findings also suggest that though national, state, and local EL education policies allow for certain practices, they hinder the development of others (Bartlett & García, 2011). Several factors influenced teacher participant perceptions about ELs discipline specific language learning. Consequently, it is important to understand multiple perspectives to support EL education transformation.

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