School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Ellen L. Black

Primary Subject Area

Education, Bilingual and Multicultural; Education, Elementary


spelling, TCK, third culture


Spelling is a critical component to literacy development. Teachers of American children living overseas as well as adult "Third Culture Kids" (TCKs) have reported that spelling is especially challenging for the TCK population. This study investigated whether a difference existed in TCK spelling achievement compared to U.S. norms, as well as the effects of gender and schooling choice on TCK spelling achievement. Participants included children who were enrolled in fourth through seventh grades in an English-speaking instructional program, who held an American passport, who have lived internationally more than two years in a non-English speaking country, and who scored in the average or above average range on the Raven Standard Progressive Matrices. Students were examined on spelling achievement using the Woodcock Johnson-R Spelling Subtest. Using independent t tests and chi square analyses, the results showed that the TCKs in this sample spelled as well as American students, but that as a whole, their distribution did not follow a normal distribution, nor did their spelling achievement match their higher level of ability. The results also demonstrated that no significant differences existed between TCKs in spelling achievement regardless of their gender or schooling choice. Implications for educators of TCKs and recommendations for future research are included.