Author ORCID Identifier

Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Education Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Beth Rous


The population of English Learners (ELs) continues to increase across the United States, and these students persistently perform below their native English-speaking peers in measures of academic achievement. Federal government leaders passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015, which modified how state and local educational agencies identify, instruct, assess, and reclassify ELs and revised what funding EL programming could receive. In this multiphase study, I investigated how the macropolitics of federal and state policy became enacted in the micropolitics of a mid-sized school district in Kentucky. Through an initial phase of document review followed by a mixed methods approach in the second phase of research, I asked what changes district leaders made to the EL support model for high schools, why they made these changes, and what effects these changes had on ELs’ English language proficiency development at a school site within the district. Results from the study proved inconclusive and have implications for education policymakers and leaders related to unpacking the complexity of policymaking, including all voices in policymaking, and designing policy through a grassroots approach.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)