Texas A&M University-Kingsville

A&M-Kingsville Doctoral Graduate's Research Earns National Honor

KINGSVILLE - February 28, 2012

Contact: Adriana Garza
adriana.garza@tamuk.edu or 361-593-4979

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Dr. Mariandrea Perez believes all children deserve a fair chance at learning. Her certifications in bilingual education and special education are a testament to her commitment to that ideal.

When it came time for Perez—a 2010 graduate of the Texas A&M University-Kingsville College of Education and Human Performance’s pioneering bilingual education doctoral program—to select a dissertation topic, assessing the needs of bilingual students with learning disabilities became a natural choice.

Perez’s years of research and analysis gained national recognition this month during the 41st National Association of Bilingual Education (NABE) conference in Dallas, where the dissertation received 4th place in the Outstanding Dissertations category.

Perez’s dissertation—Un anàlisis cuantitativo del   academic de estudiantes con necesidades especiales en programa de educaciòn bilingüe de immersion reciproca e ingles como segundo idioma—is a quantitative analysis of Two-Way Immersion (TWI) and English as a Second Language (ESL) in special needs students.

Written entirely in Perez’s native language—Spanish—the dissertation is one of only a few from the A&M-Kingsville’s bilingual education doctoral program to be written in a language other than English.

 According to the NABE, Perez’s dissertation garnered merit for “addressing an important area in education that needs much attention: bilingual and special education populations.” 

Perez researched one year’s worth of dual-language/special education information from the state of Texas. She spent more than two years analyzing the information and writing her dissertation. Ultimately, she learned that more data and research is needed on the relationship between dual language learning and special education populations. In 2010, Perez became one of the nearly 260 doctoral students to graduate from the bilingual education doctoral program since its inception 38 years ago.

Dr. Roberto Torres, associate professor in the teacher and bilingual education department at A&M-Kingsville, directed Perez’s dissertation. He said Perez’s research is particularly relevant to the area.

“A study like this is important because its purpose was to compare the impact of the Two-Way Immersion Program and the English as a Second Language Program in the academic achievement of the students with disabilities and Limited English Proficiency. Because of this reason, it is innovative and ground-breaking, especially in this area where there are thousands of second-language learners.

“Another reason it is important is that there aren’t very many studies in this very important field of education, and Mariandrea certainly contributed to this development,” Torres said.

Her work to improve the learning experience for special needs students who are bilingual continues in the classroom. Perez currently works as a special education teacher at Moody High School in Corpus Christi. Her certifications in bilingual education and special education make her a unique resource. With an unyielding commitment to serving the specific needs of the special needs/dual language students, Perez said she intends to continue to work toward motivating educational leaders to improve learning opportunities for this unique student population.

“These students are often a forgotten population,” Perez said. “We can do more for them and I want to do something more for them. They can learn more if we give them better resources.”


This page was last updated on: February 28, 2012