Study on Spanish Native Speakers Curriculum and Academic Achievement in Florida Paola A. Maino Ed.D Curriculum & Instruction University of Central Florida Abstract The purpose of this study was to examine Cummins’ Linguistic Interdependence concept by studying how Hispanic ELL student participation in SNS programs in Florida high schools is associated with educational outcomes. Students who participate in SNS courses tend to perform better in Math but not in Reading FCAT, when compared to their peers of similar Hispanic background that did not participate in SNS courses. The study results indicate that student participation in SNS program does not affect students’ overall FCAT scores. The results supported Cummins’ Linguistic Interdependence concept, as First Language (L1) maintenance may promote academic achievement, depending on the academic subject. Background to the Problem Hispanics are the largest minority group in the U.S. Almost 80% of all English Language Learners (ELL) in the United States are Hispanic. ELL foreign born students tend to be concentrated in secondary education. Hispanic students tend to have low academic achievement. Research on L2 acquisition and academic achievement It takes between five to seven years to acquire academic language, the kind of language necessary for academic success (Hakuta, Goto Butler & Witt, 2000; Thomas & Collier, 2002). The amount of formal schooling the student has had in their first language, is the most significant student background variable in regards to the learning rate of L2 (Thomas & Collier, 2002). The use of L1 did not have negative effects on ELLs English language learning and academic achievement (Yeung, Marsh & Suliman, 2000). Research on L2 acquisition and academic achievement L1 knowledge does not interfere with second generation Japanese college students English knowledge (Shibata, 2004). Hispanic students in dual language programs in low SES schools performed above or at equal levels compared to their mainstream classmates in tests in English (Lindholm & Block, 2010). Methods Participants: Hispanic ELL students in Central and Southeast counties who attended 12th grade during each year from 2006/2007 through 2009/2010. Data Collection: Student individual level data provided by the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE). Dependent variable: Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test (FCAT). Statistics: Linear regression analysis. Average FCAT scores of Hispanic ELL students and Non ELL students Hispanic ELL students Math FCAT Score Read FCAT Score Non-ELL students Math FCAT Score Read FCAT Score Obs Mean Std. Dev. Min Max 38,548 314.15 41.55 100 500 39,428 285.88 54.03 100 500 Obs Mean Std. Dev. Min Max 286,265 327.50 39.60 100 500 290,006 311.00 50.40 100 500 Linear Regression Math FCAT scores Math FCAT Took SNS FRL Gender Constant Coefficient Standard Error t P>[t] 2.78 0.421 6.60 0.00 -11.90 0.608 -19.58 0.00 4.95 0.421 11.78 0.00 320.70 0.632 507.13 0.00 Number of observations = 38,548 R-squared = 0.0142 Linear Regression: Reading FCAT scores Reading FCAT Took SNS FRL Gender Standard Coefficient Error t P>[t] -2.202 0.541 -4.07 0.00 -19.216 0.782 -24.57 0.00 -1.065 0.540 -1.97 0.04 373.80 0.00 Constant 304.012 0.813 Number of observations = 39,428 R-squared = 0.0157 Average FCAT scores of Hispanic ELL students Obs. Mean Std. Dev. Took SNS 18,234 300.6 41.9 100 450 No SNS 20,080 300.4 45.4 100 457 Min Max Regression Analysis if Hispanic Student Took SNS and Speaks Spanish Score Took SNS Coeff. Std. Err. t P>t 0.205 0.447 0.46 0.645 _cons 300.3801 0.309 972.82 0 Results Students participating in SNS curriculum tend to received better Math FCAT scores. Students participation in SNS curriculum tend to received lower Reading FCAT scores. SNS student participation may not affect student overall academic achievement as expressed in FCAT scores. Conclusion L1 maintenance and development at the high school level may enhance and promote academic achievement especially in Math. Student participation in SNS program does not affect overall students’ FCAT scores. The study results supported Cummins’ Language Interdependence theory as expressed in FCAT scores. Literature cited Cummins, J. (1986a). Linguistic interdependence: a central principle of bilingual education. In Jim Cummins and Merrill Swain (Eds.). Bilingualism in Education: Aspects of theory, research and practice (pp. 80-95). London: Longman. Lindholm-Leary, K. & Block, N. (2010). Achievement in predominantly low SES/Hispanic dual language schools. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 13(1), pp. 4360. Loeffer, M. (2007). NCELA Fast FAQ 4: What languages do ELLs speak? Washington, D.C: National Clearing House for English-Language Acquisition and Language Instruction. National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). (2008). The Condition of Education 2008. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2008/2008031.pdf Shibata, S. (2004). The effects of Japanese heritage language maintenance on scholastic verbal and academic achievement in English. Foreign Language Annals, 37(2), pp. 224-231. Smiley, P. & Salsberry, T. (2007). Effective schooling for English language learners: What elementary principals should know and do. Larchmont, N.Y.: Eye on Education, Inc. Thomas, W.P. & Collier, V.P. (2002). A national study of school effectiveness for language minority students’ long term academic achievement. Santa Cruz, CA: Center for Research in Education Diversity in Excellence, University of California, Santa Cruz. Yeung, A. S., Marsh, H. W., & Suliman, R. (2000). Can two tongues live in harmony: Analysis of the National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS88) longitudinal data on the maintenance of home language. American Educational Research Journal, 37, pp.1001-1026.