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IES Grant

Title: Language and Literacy Abilities in Spanish Language Speaking Children
Center: NCER Year: 2010
Principal Investigator: Branum-Martin, Lee Awardee: University of Houston
Program: Policies, Practices, and Programs to Support English Learners      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years Award Amount: $218,908
Type: Exploration Award Number: R305A100272

Purpose: Spanish-speaking students represent the largest and fastest growing language minority group in the United States. Unfortunately, their educational outcomes and future economic prospects lag behind those of their English-speaking peers. While much has been learned about the educational needs of Spanish speaking students in the United States, much more remains to be learned about the specific nature and development of their language and literacy abilities. The purpose of this project is to apply contemporary measurement models to examine home, student, and instructional factors and its implications for the development of more effective interventions for Spanish speaking students.

Project activities: This project will conduct secondary data analysis on a survey of home language practices, a battery of widely used Spanish and English academic achievement tests (e.g., Woodcock Language Proficiency Battery-Revised), and behavioral observations of instruction.

Products: This project will produce peer-reviewed reports summarizing the relationship between home, student, and instructional factors on early literacy acquisition for Spanish speaking students. In addition, the project will produce reports regarding preliminary evidence of promising practices for improving literacy outcomes for Spanish speaking students in early elementary school.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The data was collected in Texas and California elementary schools.

Population: 2,687 Spanish-speaking students and 527 teachers in 32 schools in Texas and California participated. Students were followed from kindergarten through second grade.

Intervention: Researchers will investigate the nature of instruction across different bilingual educational programs (English immersion, dual language instruction, and transitional programs), in conjunction with home and classroom influences, to clarify the role of language and instructional content in early literacy acquisition.

Research Design and Methods: Secondary data analysis will be conducted on measures from a quasi-experiment, including a survey of home language practices, a battery of widely used Spanish and English academic achievement tests, and classroom observations of instructional practices. Researchers will build joint, multilevel, multivariate, longitudinal models to examine questions relating to the influence of home and instructional factors on student literacy acquisition and will use these findings to suggest educational interventions for students of differing characteristics.

Control Condition: There is no control condition.

Key Measures: The home context for language was measured by a parent survey. Student language and literacy measures include six subtests of the Woodcock-Johnson Language Proficiency Battery Revised (both Spanish and English); the (English and Spanish); and seven subtests of the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing (English) and the Test of Phonological Processing (Spanish). Classroom instruction was recorded through minute-by-minute observations that captured the language of instruction as well as the content of instruction with regard to oral language, reading, spelling, and writing as well as non-instructional activities.

Data Analytic Strategy: A factor analytic approach will be used to examine the construct validity of home, student, and instructional measures at each grade level. Longitudinal models will also be applied to examine stability and change in these measures over time. Multilevel models will be used to account for clustering of students in classrooms and differential relations which may indicate classroom context/ecological effects. The project will utilize newly developed software capable of performing cross-classified structural equation modeling to characterize the relations between language and literacy growth as well as home, student, and classroom factors as students sort into different classrooms from one school year to the next.

Related IES Projects: Cross-Classified Structural Equations Model: Development of an OpenMX Module and its Application to Multiyear Assessment and Intervention Data in Literacy Research (R305D090024) and The Roles of Instruction and Component Skills in Reading Achievement (R305A120785)

Products and Publications

Book chapter

Branum–Martin, L. (2013). Multilevel Modeling: Practical Examples to Illustrate a Special Case of SEM. In Y. Petscher, C. Schatschneider, and D. Compton (Eds.), Applied Quantitative Analysis in the Social Sciences (pp. 95–124). New York: Routledge.

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Branum–Martin, L., Mehta, P.D., Carlson, C.D., and Francis, D.J. (2014). The Nature of Spanish Versus English Language at Home. Journal of Educational Psychology, 106(1): 181–199.