A Multi-Case Study of Supporting Adolescent Newcomers' Literacy Development

Pfautz, Jean, Curriculum and Instruction - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Hayes, Latisha, CU-Curr Instr & Sp Ed, University of Virginia

The research suggests that students reading develops in phases (Ehri, 1999; 2005; Spear-Swerling, 2013) and that specific component literacy skills are essential for reading development (Storch & Whitehurst, 2002). In a report to the National Literacy Panel, August and Shanahan (2006) cite evidence that EL’s literacy development in English follows the same general path as that of their monolingual peers. Transfer of specific literacy skills across languages has been documented with elementary students (Baker, Stoolmiller, Good, and Baker, 2011; Goodrich & Lonigan, 2017; Melby-Lervåg & Lervåg, 2011; Proctor, August, Snow, & Barr, 2010). There have also been studies regarding professional development for ESL teachers to better support literacy outcomes of English learners (Babinski, Amendum, Knotek, Sanchez, & Malone, 2018; Ivey and Broaddus, 2007; Montero, Newmaster, and Ledger, 2014). The purpose of this study was to learn more about how to support ESL teachers as they build knowledge of literacy development and instruction as well as to examine the literacy development this instruction would have on a class of adolescent newcomers.
This was an exploratory case study (Yin, 2017) using a formative experiment to better understand ESL teachers’ navigation of instructional practices based on literacy theory as well as the literacy development of adolescent newcomers within ESL Reading classes. The results of the analysis point to three main findings: 1) ESL teachers benefit from ongoing, sustained professional development with a focus on students’ literacy instruction and assessment. 2) Students at WIDA levels I and II have a wide array of literacy skills and ranges. 3) Modifying the ESL Reading curriculum to differentiate by student literacy skills and ranges supports students' literacy development. The implications of the findings led to three main recommendations: 1)Increasing the ESL teachers’ literacy knowledge and instructional practices through the use of ongoing professional development in the form of literacy coaching. 2) Improving the use and record-keeping of formative assessments for classroom instructional purposes in the ESL Reading classroom as well as to serve as data to help monitor growth of adolescent newcomers at Blue Ridge High School. 3)Implementing differentiated instruction within the ESL Reading classroom to better support students’ reading and writing development.

EDD (Doctor of Education)
English learners, Adolescent newcomers, Literacy, Second Language Literacy, ESL Teachers
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