Date of Award

May 2024

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Psychology

First Advisor

Karen C Stoiber

Committee Members

Kyongboon Kwon, Bo Zhang, Leanne M Evans


bilingual, early childhood education, english only, literacy, Multilingual learners, second language proficiency


The purpose of this study was to investigate Spanish-speaking multilingual learner (MLL) students’ long-term academic outcomes after participation in an early childhood education (ECE) program with English instruction. The study included 359 Spanish-speaking MLLs who qualified for Free and Reduced Lunch from Grade 1 to Grade 6. Participants entered a large suburban public school district in the Midwest in Kindergarten in the 2014-2015, 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school years. In this study, 186 MLLs participated in an English Only Early Childhood Education (EO ECE) program and 173 MLLs did not participate in an EO ECE (No-EO ECE) program housed within the participating school district. Participants were assigned by the school district to a transitional bilingual or English only program of instruction with English as a second language support. This 9-year longitudinal study (each cohort over 7 years) explored MLLs' number of years in EL (English language) support from Kindergarten to Grade 7 and whether the EO ECE and No-EO ECE participants differed on their NWEA MAP Growth Reading scores at Grade 2, Grade 4, and Grade 6. Three analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) models were employed at each of the three timepoints, Grade 2, Grade 4, and Grade 6. A hierarchical linear regression model was employed to explore the role of EO ECE participation for Spanish-speaking MLLs' long-term second language acquisition outcomes at Grade 7. MLLs' sex at birth, Kindergarten English language proficiency, attendance and instructional program type in elementary school were considered. Results revealed that EO ECE participation did not significantly predict the number of years spent in the EL support program and was not significantly associated with MLLs’ NWEA MAP Growth Reading scores. Additional results revealed NWEA MAP Growth Reading scores and participants’ English language proficiency at Kindergarten entry were significantly associated at Grade 2 and Grade 6. Attendance significantly predicted NWEA MAP Growth Reading scores at Grade 4 and Grade 6. Program type significantly predicted MAP Growth Reading scores at Grade 4. Notably, 51% of MLLs remained in the EL support program in Grade 7. Implications, limitations, and future directions are discussed.

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