Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Urban Education


Ofelia García

Committee Members

Anthony Picciano

Kate Menken

Subject Categories



Numerous studies have shown that early childhood education (ECE) contributes to educational attainment particularly for poor children. Nationally, ECE has gained considerable backing as a viable intervention to propel achievement. As ECE comes to the fore, census figures indicate that Latinos are the fastest growing minority in the United States. Latinos have persistently experienced greater rates of poverty and other risk factors that adversely affect educational attainment.

Multiple risk factors as well as a "cultural mismatch" with a school system poised to educate white, middle-class, English-speaking students, raise alarm for the educational trajectories of Latino children just entering schools. Racism and linguicism exist as the social backdrop that informs public opinion regarding the education of Latino preschool children. In this context, bilingual instruction for these children may represent a libratory as well as effective pedagogical approach.

This quantitative causal comparative study looks at the combined effectiveness of early childhood education and home language instruction on the English emergent literacy skills of Spanish-speaking preschool students randomly assigned to monolingual instruction or bilingual instruction. Over the course of two early childhood years - Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten -- the students' scores on multiple measures of emergent literacy skills were compared and analyzed.

Results indicate that bilingual instruction offers key advantages to Spanish-speaking preschool children that mitigate some of the negative impact of poverty on achievement. Patterns emerge in the results that indicate that bilingual instruction can also potentially neutralize the association between a mother's low educational attainment and decreased achievement for the child.

The multiple assessments of emergent literacy skills utilized in this study reveal inadequacies in timed fluency measures, common throughout the United States, for a population that is developing English language skills. This suggests the need for appropriate assessments that do not disadvantage second language learners.

As a comprehensive analysis of what occurs in the first two years of school, this study presents compelling evidence. Bilingual instruction emerges as a powerful protective factor for young Latinos which neutralizes substantial risks while it produces comparable rates of achievement with emergent bilinguals receiving instruction only in English.


Digital reproduction from the UMI microform.

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