Language policy, teacher beliefs, and practice: implications for English language learners in mathematics
In 2007, Arizona voters passed House Bill (HB) 2064, a law that fundamentally restructured the Structured English Immersion (SEI) program, putting into place a 4-hour English language development (ELD) block for educating English language learners (ELLs). Under this new language policy, ELL students are segregated from their English-speaking peers to receive a minimum of four hours of instruction in discrete language skills with no contextual or native language support. Furthermore, ELD is separate from content-area instruction, meaning that language and mathematics are taught as two separate entities. While educators and researchers have begun to examine the organizational structure of the 4-hour block curriculum and implications for student learning, there is much to be understood about the extent to which this policy impacts ELLs opportunities to learn mathematics. Using ethnographic methods, this dissertation documents the beliefs and practices of four Arizona teachers in an effort to understand the relationship between language policy and teacher beliefs and practice and how together they coalesce to form learning environments for their ELL students, particularly in mathematics. The findings suggest that the 4-hour block created disparities in opportunities to learn mathematics for students in one Arizona district, depending on teachers' beliefs and the manner in which the policy was enacted, which was, in part, influenced by the State, district, and school. The contrast in cases exemplified the ways in which policy, which was enacted differently in the various classes, restricted teachers' practices, and in some cases resulted in inequitable opportunities to learn mathematics for ELLs.