Dissertations, Theses and Capstone Projects

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Teacher Leadership (Ed.D)


Teacher Leadership for Learning

First Advisor

Leena Her

Second Advisor

Linda Shaford Evans

Third Advisor

Guichun Zong


This case study examined the implementation of one elementary school’s Spanish- English two-way immersion program and its effectiveness as measured by test scores. Discussions with stakeholders at one school on a classroom and school level were also used to measure its perceived effectiveness. Two-way immersion is one option for federally mandated support for ELs. Through the lenses of sociocultural and critical theory, this study explored relationships and infrastructure within Creekview Elementary’s two-way immersion program and the purposes and outcomes of the program for English learners. Key findings suggest that the program operates with high levels of administrative support and teacher-to-teacher and student- to-student collaboration. Two-way immersion benefits teachers and students because teachers are learning through interaction (lesson planning, data collection such as response to intervention, having two perspectives of English Learners who are or may become identified as students with disabilities). Students are learning from interaction (having and serving as language models, emotionally benefiting from not being isolated and having support from students dominant in each target language). Another finding is that the 50-50 model of instruction is loosely implemented within the program. Also, two-way immersion English learners’ academic

Two-Way Immersion

achievement is not significantly different than the achievement of English learners in an English- only ESOL program at Creekview Elementary School who have been in the program from kindergarten to third grade. This indicates that learning content for a large portion of each day in Spanish is not negatively impacting student achievement or English language proficiency.

Overall, data sources indicate that two-way immersion students benefitted socially and emotionally from the two-way immersion program. However, research findings suggest that high quality language instruction for English learners provides language instruction to native English speakers as a secondary goal, the first language often becomes marginalized and the native English speakers become a primary focus of two-way immersion programs. This negative impact is possibly due to the anti-immigrant sentiments and policies and individuals’ “common sense” notions about language and learning English. This study supports existing literature that states that educational systems in the United States perpetuate existing language and class ideologies (Freeman, 2000; Gallagher-Geurtsen, 2007). The study is also consistent with research findings that suggest two-way immersion programs potentially provide additional privilege to already privileged native English speakers and that two-way immersion programs benefit all students socially and emotionally and increase student achievement after students participate for four or more years (Collier & Thomas, 2004; Palmer, 2009; Scanlan & Palmer, 2009; Thomas & Collier, 2002; Valdez, 2011).