Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2017

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Psychological and Quantitative Foundations

First Advisor

Ehly, Stewart W.

First Committee Member

Assouline, Susan

Second Committee Member

Plakans, Lia

Third Committee Member

Welch, Catherine

Fourth Committee Member

Wieck, Charlotte


Schools are required by law to identify and support English Language Learner (ELL) students. However, ELL students across grade levels consistently score well below their English-proficient peers in math. Because of this, it is imperative that the literature on effective instruction for these students remain current. Research that is available in this area has demonstrated positive relations between early ELL math performance and several demographic and school factors, including: socioeconomic status (SES), primary language proficiency, English proficiency, high-quality computer instruction, heterogeneous achievement grouping, bilingual instruction, use of cooperative learning activities, all-day kindergarten programs (as opposed to half-day), and school settings that have access to greater resources. However, this research is both limited and dated. The current study updated this literature using a recent large-scale dataset. The results indicated that a significant gap in math performance continues to exist between ELL and English- proficient students. This gap is present at kindergarten entry and persists through the spring of kindergarten. In addition, math performance at kindergarten entry was significantly accounted for by students’ Spanish proficiency and SES. Models predicting math growth over kindergarten from the instructional strategy of playing math-related games and a classroom emphasis on recognizing ordinal numbers were also significant. Contrary to previous research, the adequacy of instructional materials and student program type were not significant predictors of kindergarten math growth in this study. This research provides preliminary evidence of effective strategies for instructing ELL students, although several limitations to these findings are discussed, as are implications and future directions.


Achievement, Early Intervention, English Language Learners, Mathematics


vi, 65 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 61-65).


Copyright © 2017 Shaun Wilkinson