Date of Award


Degree Name

Specialist in Education


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Brett Geier

Second Advisor

Dr. Dennis McCrumb

Third Advisor

Dr. Fonda Green


Education, differentiation, best practices, English language learner, elementary students

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


With the increase of second language English learners in U.S. kindergarten through twelfth grade schools and the continued achievement gap between these students and English speaking students, educators and administrators need to develop, implement and support best practices for differentiation among English Language Learners. ELL students are often categorized as special education students while their only barrier to learning is language acquisition. On the other hand, ELL students may have additional learning difficulties that are not identified because there is an assumption that language acquisition is the single challenge to their learning. Educators often engage in whole group instruction with ELL students, however, differentiation in instruction and assessment is found to aide educators in meeting the individual and diverse needs of ELL students. The research found in this paper focuses on best practices for differentiation among third through fifth grade ELL students. This focus is vital because of important academic shifts, including learning to read to reading to learn during these years. A key finding is that the entire school environment, not only classroom instruction, affects success for ELL students. This research concludes with matrices that can aide instructors and administrators in evaluating their own school and classroom instruction in best practices for differentiation among third through fifth grade ELL students.