Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Education

Document Type



This qualitative research study used the case study method of one-on-one interviews to collect and examine the experiences of former English learners (ELs) who were unable to finish high school in southeastern Louisiana. This study aimed to identify specific factors that, using Everett Lee’s theory, pushed or pulled these ELs from school and affected their ability to graduate. The push factors that were identified included language, inadequate support, academic performance, discrimination, and lack of connection with school and culture. Pull factors that were identified included lack of prior education, immigration, poverty, pregnancy, being far from family, financially supporting family, and education not being valued by the family. Participants were identified through snowball sampling starting first with individuals that I had previously taught as a high school EL teacher in southeast Louisiana, then gathering an equal number of individuals that I had not taught. Educators and parents were included to first define the roles they play in whether EL graduates or not and to correlate the push and pull factors that were identified in the interviews of former ELs. Data collection was done in the form of recorded personal interviews or copies of texts from digital messaging platforms. Interviews that were recorded were then transcribed. All coding was done by hand and verified through a peer coding review.

The findings from this study underscored the importance of language instruction and support, creating an inclusive school environment, and how strongly factors such as poverty and the need to financially support one’s family can be in the life of an EL. This study found that most teachers do not feel equipped to work with ELs, but that the ELs themselves valued the experiences they had with their teachers and schools even though they did not graduate. Most of all, this study found that ELs are facing so many challenges to achieving high school success and that these are not being adequately addressed in southeast Louisiana.



Committee Chair

Skinner, Kim