Giving the students a voice: surveying students about Arizona's structured English immersion restrictive language policy

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This study explores the relationship between restrictive language policies and dropout influences for language minority students. It furthers understanding of factors related to school attachment and restrictive language policies through

This study explores the relationship between restrictive language policies and dropout influences for language minority students. It furthers understanding of factors related to school attachment and restrictive language policies through an analysis of student's attitudes towards their imposed curriculum. Few studies to date have addressed English language learners' (ELLs') attitudes toward school, especially when schools enforce highly restrictive language policies, and the implications of these student perceptions as related to students' level of attachment to school in general. This study addresses this gap. It investigated middle and high school ELLs' and reclassified (RC) students' attitudes toward school, their aspirations for the future, and the language program in which they are or were recently enrolled within the state of Arizona. Using Erickson's analytic induction method and employing descriptive statistics, t tests, and hierarchical multiple regression, 2,264 students were polled from urban school districts in Arizona. The 85-question survey was comprised of demographic questions and attitude items as measured on a 5-point Likert scale. Results indicate some students are not satisfied with the four-hour block and that many students are aware of the negative implications involvement in the four-hour block can incur. Findings also show that language minority students are not receiving an equal education in regards to their curriculum. More importantly, considering policies and practices of schools as a factor, especially those which are restrictive language policies, is important in better understanding ELL and RC students' attachment to school and the potential impact of these policies on the likelihood of language minority students dropping out of school in the future. Policy implications are discussed.