September 2015 – December 2022
The Florida Center for Reading Research
Academic language skills are critical supports for reading and understanding for all students, particularly for English Learners (ELs) and disadvantaged native English speakers whose achievement typically lags behind their peers. For example, nationally fourth grade ELs continue to score significantly lower on reading and math assessments compared to their non-EL counterparts. Because districts and policymakers need information about what works to close these gaps, this evaluation examined whether a promising supplemental academic language program was effective when implemented at a large scale. The program included 12 two-week teaching units that introduced 5 to 6 high-frequency academic vocabulary words used across English language arts, math, science, and social studies. Each unit provided students with repeated, authentic opportunities to practice using academic language in the classroom.
The study team recruited 70 schools and randomly assigned them to either receive the program's training and materials or continue their instruction as usual. Program schools were offered summer training and ongoing support to implement the academic language program with their fourth and fifth grade teachers and students during the 2017–18 school year.
Data collection included study-administered assessments of students' academic language skills and reading comprehension, classroom observations to document the instructional contrast between teachers and classrooms that received the program training and those that did not, and administrative records to document student English proficiency and progress.
A report, titled The Effects of an Academic Language Program on Student Reading Outcomes, was released in August 2022.