Examining English Learner Supports During the Pandemic Era: A Causal Comparative Study

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Marginalized students require support for equitable learning opportunities. The problem was the abrupt transition from in-person to online learning in the 2020 pandemic era presented challenges for educators to implement supports, such as the communicative approach and social-emotional learning, necessary for English learner (EL) success. Although qualitative research has explored EL challenges during online learning, additional quantitative research was needed to examine program success. A theoretical framework was used to examine language learning approaches, social-emotional learning, ELs, and online learning during the 2020 pandemic era. The purpose of this causal-comparative quantitative study was to test for statistically significant differences in Florida public school districts’ EL ACCESS test scores between the treatment and control groups from 2019 to 2020 after treatment groups received implementation of communicative approach-aligned instruction and social-emotional learning programs during the 2020 pandemic era. A mixed analysis of variance test was used to analyze 2019 and 2020 EL ACCESS test scores in Florida. Each district was categorized into control or treatment groups based on a clustering sampling method of district variable implementations. Three research questions guided the examination of the effects of the communicative approach, social-emotional learning, and both approaches applied together as independent variables. Analyses revealed no statistical significance of programs on EL test scores. Recommendations include future research efforts with a larger scale and post-online learning scores and evaluation criteria for Florida schools’ instructional initiatives. Keywords: English learners, pandemic, communicative approach, social-emotional learning