Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name



Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Dr. Karen L. Tonso


Equal educational opportunity for English language learners (ELLs) has been a goal of the public educational system in the United States. Language policy reforms have increasedaccountability in order for schools to improve student achievement and measure the progress of ELLs. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) requires assessment and accountability. In this study, the number of ELLs has increased significantly at the high school level and school district as a whole.

Along with the changing demographics, the findings reveal a district-wide policy of equalizing educational opportunity through equal treatment. Language policies provide critical decisions about how to measure what students know in all subjects. The assimilation model limited access to mainstream course content, produced inaccurate assessment results and grades. The science curriculum was only accessible through English and the use of the students' native languages was discouraged. The voices of the students were silenced and their academic achievement continues to lag behind their English-speaking peers.