PREPARATION FOR CASE STUDY
The purpose of this paper is to state the variables and the hypotheses associated with an investigation of the problem of applying the No Child Left Behind Act in a manner that is culturally and ethically fair to children. The paper first introduces the problem, and then proceeds to show how this problem is going to be both operationalized and measured; this is followed by a formulation of both the null and alternative hypotheses. Hypothesis formulation is based on theoretical and research claims.
Education has always been an important trademark of the United States of America. Throughout the years, the significance of a well-developed education has been increasing. Recently, the government has increased its role in the education system by passing the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. By doing this, the government can ensure that each and every student is receiving the best education possible so that no student falls behind. With the importance of education constantly increasing in this country, it is absolutely necessary that all students receive a quality education. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 is a well-intentioned law passed by President Bush to ensure that all students are finding success in school. While the law has many good points, one must be aware of the potential cultural difference and prejudice and its effects on your students academic performance and cultural identities. The use of assessment materials and procedures should be selected and used so that they do not discriminate racially or culturally against students. The aforementioned leaves one to wonder rather or not the “No Child Left Behind Act” will cause America’s students more harm than good.
Operationalization and Measurement of Variables
The federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) requires all states to establish standards for accountability for all schools and districts in their states to measure student progress in core academic subjects annually. However, in terms of the problem of cultural fairness mentioned in the problem section of this paper, it can be noted that the Institute for Language and Education Policy (2007) reports that ESL students are often left behind because of difficulties involved in measuring the performance of these children who are hindered in their performance by difficulties with the language rather than academic deficits.
This same point is made by Abedi and Dietel (2004. p. 2) who reported that, “…the language demands of tests negatively influence accurate measurement of ELL performance.” The proposed research will test the validity of this statement using a sample of sixth grade ESL students whose native language is Spanish. The independent variable in the research will be “The language Demands” of a standard achievement test with two levels: (1) the high level of language demand as operationalized by a test written in English; and (2) the low level of language demand as operationalized by a test written in Spanish.
The dependent measure will be the score (number correct) on the California Achievement test typically called the “CAT score.” The CAT is selected because it is used in many states as a standard measure of children’s learning achievement (see: National Learning Corporation, 2005) and which has a Spanish version of the test available (see: National Learning Corporation, 2005). Specifically, the scores of Hispanic ESL students completing the English version of the California Achievement Test will be compared to the scores of Hispanic ESL students completing the Spanish version of the California Achievement Test in order to determine whether there is a significant difference in performance when the language demands of the test are high and low.
Theoretical Orientation and Null/Alternative Hypotheses
Do students perform better in a second language if they are comprehensively and consistently exposed to the language and tested in the language, or if they are provided with a mix of instruction in both their native language and the second language and tested in both languages as well? According to Mitchell and Florence (2004), there are theories supporting both the immersion in the second language and the mixed view. However, the literature examined in the beginning of this report (e.g., Abedi & Dietel, 2004; The Institute for Language and Educational Policy, 2007) clearly shows that educators feel it is the theories supporting a mixed English/Native Language approach that will work best for ESL students. If it is assumed that the educators are correct, then an alternative hypothesis can be formulated against the null hypothesis.
Both the null and the alternative hypotheses are formulated here:
Null Hypothesis – The scores of Hispanic ESL students who are administered the English version of the California Achievement Test will not significantly differ from the scores of Hispanic ESL students who are administered the Spanish version of the California Achievement Test.
The alternative hypothesis to the null is based on the claims made by Abedi & Dietel, (2004) and The Institute for Language and Educational Policy (2007) which state that taking a test in other than their native places high language demands on students and consequently impairs their performance. This leads to the following alternative hypothesis:
Alternative Hypothesis – The scores of ESL students who are administered the English version of the California Achievement Test will be significantly lower than the scores of students who are administered the Spanish version of the California Achievement Test.
It should be noted that all references cited in this paper are primary references.