Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Education/Leadership in Urban Schools

First Advisor

Wenfan Yan

Second Advisor

Zeena Zakharia

Third Advisor

Esta Montano


The purpose of this study was to explore English learner identification and placement through the lens of teacher knowledge and attitude, with the goal of identifying ways to ensure that the intended outcome (correct identification and placement) occurs. Employing explanatory mixed methods research, data was collected from teachers and other educators in the Jackson Public School district through both a web administered survey and one to one phone interviews. The survey data showed that the number of ELs that an educator has had in the past few years had a statistically significant effect on educator knowledge, but none of the tested demographic variables had a significant effect on educator attitude. The interview data helped to explain the survey findings, as educators shared their experiences with English learners in their classrooms and on their caseloads. This study will help guide future inquiry about “leveling the playing field” for educators working with English learners by identifying environments and circumstances that could be replicated in order to improve educators’ knowledge and influence educators’ attitudes about English learner identification and placement.