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Superintendents' perceptions of English -only instruction in Massachusetts and Rhode Island public school districts

Jean McCrave Baxter, Johnson & Wales University


This descriptive study explores the perceptions of school superintendents in Rhode Island and Massachusetts public schools concerning English-only instruction. Whether approved by local school board committees or by statewide mandate, English-only instruction continues to be a much-debated policy in school systems throughout the United States. Policymakers who support English-only instruction argue that English should be the only medium of instruction for second-language learners in American public school systems (Leistyna, 2002; Lu, 1998; Torres, 2002). ^ This study surveyed 74 superintendents of schools in Massachusetts and Rhode Island regarding their perceptions of implementing English-only instruction as a replacement for bilingual and other existing ESL programs. The research questions examine: (a) the perceived value of English-only instruction in aiding ESL students to attain English proficiency; (b) legislation and court rulings; (c) perceived effects of English-only instruction on student achievement; and (d) the financial considerations of an English-only instruction policy in public schools. ^ The purpose of this research study is to address best practice from the superintendents' perspective on how to practice from the superintendents' perspective on how to serve the needs of a growing English as a second language (ESL) student population. This study addresses whether or not English-only instruction is the solution to closing the achievement gap between English language learners and their English-speaking peers and maximizing achievement for ESL students. The study distinguishes areas where there is a consensus and where there is disagreement among superintendents in these two northeastern states. ^

Subject Area

Education, Language and Literature|Education, Bilingual and Multicultural|Education, Curriculum and Instruction

Recommended Citation

McCrave Baxter, Jean, "Superintendents' perceptions of English -only instruction in Massachusetts and Rhode Island public school districts" (2004). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3148906.