Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy



Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Dr. Kim Song


Dr. Natalie Bolton

Dr. Lisa Dorner

Dr. Ralph Cordova


English Language Learners (ELLs) represent the fastest growing population in the public-school community in the United States (U.S.), where their academic achievements lag behind their native English-speaking peers. English Language Learners’ academic achievement gap has raised a challenging issue for U.S. educators. A convergent parallel mixed-methods study was conducted to 1) compare English Language learners’ academic achievements (mathematics and English Language Arts [ELA] scores) to non-ELLs’ academic achievements (mathematics and ELA scores) in a one-way Spanish immersion school in the Midwestern United States; 2) examine the impact of using Spanish as an instructional tool on English Language Learners’ (ELLs) academic achievements who are admitted in a Midwestern Spanish language immersion school; 3) investigate how teachers perceive the effectiveness of Spanish language instruction on students’ achievement and more specifically, ELLs; 4) assess the one-way immersion program’s ability to assist ELLs’ performance by using their first language and achieve better academic advancement compared to non-ELLs. The results of this convergent parallel mixed-methods study explained that there was no significant difference between ELLs and non-ELLs of mathematics and ELA scores. ELLs in a one-way immersion school perform similarly to their non-ELLs in measure of mathematics and ELA. Based on the results of this mixed-methods study, all teachers confirmed that it was an excellent idea to use ELLs’ first language as an instructional tool. They insisted that L1 represented a great benefit for ELLs who learn through their L1. Also, ELLs can develop their first language besides acquire English as a second language.

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