English-language learners in a Texas school district were found to have more pride in achievement and higher perceptions of their educational opportunities than ELLs in an Arizona school district, a study published by Arizona University in the Education Policy Analysis Archives found. Rather than look at educational outcomes, the study focused on attitudes that ELLs have about their own learning, which the study contends research literature shows makes a difference in achievement. It was conducted by Francesca López, an assistant professor in the college of education at Marquette University, in Milwaukee, Wis.
The study’s findings are based on the attitudes of 295 Hispanic ELLs, ages 9-11, participating either in bilingual education classrooms in Texas or “structured English immersion,” or English-only, classrooms in Arizona. The Texas students scored moderately higher in perceptions of scholastic competence and educational opportunities than the Arizona students. On measures of stress of acculturation, perceived discrimination, and some kinds of motivation, the Arizona students scored moderately higher than the Texas students. On measures of two kinds of motivation, though, persistence and being an engaged learner, the Arizona students scored higher than the Texas students.
López speculates that the reason Arizona students scored higher on two kinds of motivation is that “lower academic achievement may actually increase motivation,” that the higher scores on these two measures is an example of resilience.
She concludes from the overall findings in her study that Arizona should revisit its policy to restrict the use of native-language instruction for ELLs because it may be interfering with the educational opportunities of such students.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.