The response to an ESL population boom in the Beaufort County, South Carolina school system: A case study

Amanda Gail de Varona, Florida International University


The purpose of this case study was to examine the why the English language learners (ELLs) in the Beaufort County, South Carolina school system have been so successful. This school system has recently experienced a boom in its ESL student population, and this population has performed very well on standardized tests. This study used critical theory as its theoretical framework and examined why the students have been successful rather than marginalized in Beaufort County schools. This phenomenon was investigated using semi-structured interviews with the ESOL Coordinator for Beaufort County, 4 ESL-lead teachers, and 6 mainstream teachers. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews with Sarah Owen, the Beaufort County ESOL, Gifted and Talented, and World Languages coordinator. Based on the results of her interview, 4 themes emerged that were used for the semi-structured interviews with ESOL and mainstream teachers. The interviews centered on the themes of ESL policy, ESL leadership, and teacher training. The ESL and mainstream teacher interviews also revealed several subthemes that included teacher attitude, why Beaufort County has been successful with the ELLs, and the teachers' recommendations for other schools systems trying to successfully accommodate a large ESL student population in mainstream classrooms. The findings from the teachers' interviews revealed that additional training for the teachers without ESL experience helped them become comfortable instructing ELLs. This training should be conducted by the ESOL teachers for those without ESOL certification or endorsement. As the teachers had more training, they had better attitudes about teaching ESOL students in their classes. Finally, those who utilized the additional ESOL training and ESOL accommodations saw better student achievement in their classes. Based on the finding of this study, the researcher proposed a model for other school systems to follow in order to replicate the success of Beaufort County's ELLs. The implications of this study focus on other schools systems and why ELLs are not obtaining the same level of success as those in Beaufort County's schools. Finally, recommendations for further research are provided.

Subject Area

Bilingual education|Educational leadership|Curriculum development

Recommended Citation

de Varona, Amanda Gail, "The response to an ESL population boom in the Beaufort County, South Carolina school system: A case study" (2014). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3644759.