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Academic Language Impact Evaluation

Contract Information

Current Status:

Data analysis is underway.

Duration:

September 2015 – September 2021

Cost:

$14,562,980

Contract Number:

ED-IES-15-C-0050

Contractor(s):

MDRC
Abt Associates
The Florida Center for Reading Research

Contact:

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 examines whether a promising supplemental academic language program is effective when implemented at a large scale. The program includes 12 two-week teaching units that introduce 5 to 6 high-frequency academic vocabulary words used across English language arts, math, science, and social studies. Each unit provides students with repeated, authentic opportunities to practice using academic language in the classroom.

  • What is the impact of the academic language program on student achievement?
  • What is the impact of the academic language program on classroom instruction?
  • Is there variation in the implementation or impact of the program? What implementation and sample characteristics are associated with variation in impacts?

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 includes 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.

Key findings will be available after the study report is published.

The study report is expected in 2021 and will be announced on http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/.