Spring 2023


Capstone Project

Degree Name



Maggie Struck

Content Expert

Lauren Parlin


English Learners (ELs) have experienced a lack of sustained academic success for generations, especially compared to their non-EL peers. The cause of this experience is multifaceted and the importance of making its history visible cannot be stressed enough. This capstone aims to empower individuals with the knowledge of this topic and create empathy for the EL community so that awareness becomes actionable and change is demanded for the way foundational literacy skills are taught in public schools. Knowledge for this topic includes a historical context of language policies, theories of learning, literacy instruction, and misconceptions stemming from these facets that have hindered early reading proficiency for all students, especially ELs. Additionally, these misconceptions and the unique needs of ELs are analyzed to highlight the social barriers that have been created that impact the academic experience and success of these students. Finally, academic success and its evaluative impact on the educational process are discussed before presenting the current research on best practices for ELs. In order for the academic success of ELs to be sustained, we must provide foundational literacy instruction that meets the unique needs of ELs and is systematic, sequential, and specific, beginning with phonemic awareness instruction throughout elementary school. While the focus of this capstone is to change the way foundational literacy skills are taught in public schools for the sake of ELs, the reformation and its positive outcomes will permeate to non-ELs as well.

Project Type

Professional Development


ESL/ ELLs, Social Justice, Language Policy, Foundational Literacy








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