English learners' achievement in mathematics and science: Examining the role of self-efficacy

Lia E. Sandilos, Alison E. Baroody, Sara E. Rimm-Kaufman, Eileen G. Merritt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The goals of the current study were twofold. The first goal was to describe levels of mathematics and science self-efficacy and achievement among a sample of students with varying levels of English language proficiency. The second goal was to examine the extent to which students' self-efficacy explains the relation between their English proficiency level and mathematics and science achievement. The sample consisted of 332 fifth graders (mean age = 10.46 years, SD = 0.38) and their 63 teachers in 20 schools. The student sample was linguistically diverse with parents reporting 22 different home languages. Based on district classification procedures, each student was coded into one of three English language proficiency level categories: English proficient-speaking students (English proficient), English Learner (EL) students who are reaching proficiency, yet are still being monitored (reaching proficiency), and EL students who are receiving English for Speakers of Other Languages services (ESOL; limited English proficient). Regression analyses indicated that students identified as limited English proficient consistently demonstrated lower achievement and self-efficacy across the content areas of mathematics and science as compared to their peers who were English proficient and reaching proficiency. In addition, students' self-efficacy partially explained the relation between limited English proficiency level and achievement for science, but not for mathematics. Results indicate that educators should consider variability in students' English proficiency levels as they select supports to promote both science achievement and self-efficacy. Findings also suggest promise for practices and programs that foster self-efficacy in addition to language and content skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of School Psychology
StatePublished - Apr 2020


  • Elementary school
  • English learners
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Self-efficacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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