Is there a correlation between differentiating instruction and English language learner achievement?

Melissa Monique DeAngelo

Abstract

Minority students and English language learners are underachieving. Schools with a culture of every student, every day, have the ability to break generational cycles and to change the future of these students that has been predicted by circumstances. This case study examined and analyzed the differentiated instructional practices and implementation at three elementary schools, and determined if there was a correlation between differentiated instruction and success of English language learners. More specifically, the purpose of this case study was to examine (a) the extent of the principles of differentiated instruction present in the classroom (b) differentiated instruction in response to student diversity relating to student interest, readiness, and learning style (c) differences in the style of differentiated instruction occurring related to English language learners and subgroups within this group, and (d) the impact of implementation of differentiated instruction on MCT2 language arts and mathematics proficiencies. The results of the study suggests that teachers used a variety of consistent differentiated instructional methods to respond to student diversity, and the practices observed coincided with best practices and recommended strategies in literature for differentiating instruction for all students, specifically for English language learners. The research concluded that best practices essential in closing the achievement gap were observed in numerous classrooms but were not reflected in student mathematics and language arts proficiencies. Throughout the study, themes became evident through a multitude of sources that close the achievement gap: collaboration, data analysis and data driven decision making, response to intervention, and differentiated literacy instruction. Effective leadership was also an essential factor that influenced the success of quality implementation of differentiated instruction.