Behavioral and academic competencies associated with English language learner status
Garefino, Allison C.
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Twenty percent of the children in the United States ages 5 to 17 years old are English language learner (ELL) students. Research suggests that ELL students are at risk for high rates of externalizing behaviors and poor academic achievement. Other risk factors include limited parent involvement in school and the possibility of a more conflicted relationship with teachers. Using the multiple levels of the Social Ecological Model as a framework, this study sought to: (1) examine whether there are differences in externalizing behavior problems as a function of ELL status; (2) examine the involvement of parents of ELL students versus fluent English speaking students with their teachers and school; (3) examine the quality of the relationship between teachers and ELL students versus teachers and fluent English speaking students, and (4) examine whether there are differences in the perception of academic achievement as a function of student language status. Results of analyses from structural equation modeling indicate that ELL status is predictive of higher rates of teacher reported externalizing behavior problems, and of a more conflicted student-teacher relationship. Clinical implications of the association between ELL status with teachers' perceptions of externalizing behaviors and conflicted student-teacher relationships are discussed. Possible policy changes are also suggested.