Publication Date




Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Daryl Greenfield

Second Committee Member

Rebecca Bulotsky-Shearer

Third Committee Member

Lynn Perry

Fourth Committee Member

Randall Penfield

Fifth Committee Member

Andrew Lynch


Children from low-income homes are at risk for an academic achievement gap that spans the domains of language, math, and science. Latino Dual Language Learning (DLL) children are disproportionately more likely to come from low-income homes than their peers, making them more likely to face additional risks to their academic achievement. Science has recently been recognized on a national level as an area of importance for early childhood education. Science is a key content area for DLL children because it provides opportunities to learn vocabulary through hands-on activities, develop social-emotional skills, engage in critical-thinking, and problem-solving. High quality early science education may ameliorate the effects of the achievement gap. Despite the potential benefits that science education provides for young children, to date, no studies have compared DLL children’s science scores in both English and Spanish. The purpose for examining their science scores in both languages is twofold: to understand how to best assess Head Start DLL children in the domain of science and to understand potential impacts on their science scores. Using equated English and Spanish science assessments, the present study examined: 1) differences in Spanish/English DLL children’s science scores in English and Spanish 2) the association between children’s dominant language and their science scores in English and Spanish 3) associations between the percent of English and Spanish teachers used and children’s science outcomes and the relation between teachers’ academic science language and DLL children’s science scores. DLL children in the sample did not perform differently on their English and Spanish science assessments. Dominant language predicted children’s performance on English, but not Spanish science assessments. Teacher English and Spanish and teacher academic science language did not impact children’s performance on science assessments. Implications for these findings both in terms of research and practice are discussed.


Dual Language Learners; low-income; early science education; teacher language; preschool

Available for download on Sunday, July 25, 2021