Date of Award

Spring 6-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


College of Education, Doctoral Program

First Advisor

Sonia Soltero

Second Advisor

Sung Park-Johnson

Third Advisor

José Soltero


Throughout the history of the United States, tests have been utilized as a means to exclude and marginalize immigrant and minority populations, and in the absence of a national language policy have served as de facto language policy. English Learners (ELs) have been among the fastest-growing student populations in the United States, comprising a heterogeneous group with different cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Research findings concerning the assessment of ELs highlight a significant difference in the academic performance of these students from that of their native English speaking classmates. ELs face a substantial hurdle in learning both English and academic content in English at the same time. The purpose of this quasi-experimental correlational design quantitative study was to examine the relationship between ELs’ second language proficiency and achievement on federally mandated standardized content-area assessments in ELA and mathematics. This study sought to address the overarching issues concerning the processes of second language development and assessment of ELs within the context of public education in the United States. This study employed various statistical tests - linear correlation, Chi-Square test of independence, and linear regression models - to measure the degree of association and strength of relationship amongst the variables to test the hypotheses and answer the research questions. The participants for this study included 119 third, fourth, and fifth grade ELs in a small, yet significantly diverse, suburban Illinois school district during the 2017-2018 academic school year. The results of this study empirically demonstrated that the PARCC assessment for both ELA and mathematics is a linguistically laden challenge for ELs in a way that it is not for students whose primary language is English. The results clearly elucidate the relationship between English language proficiency and achievement on PARCC, a federally mandated performance-based content-area assessment. Furthermore, this study provides specific information and insight regarding the validity and reliability of standardized assessment practices within the State of Illinois at a moment of decision and opportunity. There are profound societal impacts to this work that extend well beyond performance on a standardized assessment. The equity in assessment and educational experience for ELs is critical to our work in schools of providing all students with the knowledge, understandings, strategies, and confidence to achieve success in a self-determined future.