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Dual Language Programs - What does the research say about the effect of dual language programs on students’ reading achievement?

Northwest | March 01, 2019

Dual Language Programs


Boyle, A., August, D., Tabaku, L., Cole, S., & Simpson-Baird, A. (2015). Dual language education programs: Current state policies and practices. Washington, DC: American Institutes for Research. Retrieved from

From the Website:
"This report is the result of an examination of research and reports on dual language programs, along with information collected from state education agency websites and state and federal databases. The authors also interviewed officials in six states: Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Utah."

Lindholm-Leary, K. J., & Hernández, A. (2011). Achievement and language proficiency of Latino students in dual language programmes: Native English speakers, fluent English/previous ELLs, and current ELLs. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 32(6), 531–545. Retrieved from

From the Abstract:
"The purpose of this research is to examine the achievement and language proficiency of 732 Grade 4 to Grade 8 Latino students enrolled in a dual language programme who differed by language proficiency. Results show that these Latino student groups achieve at higher levels than their peers in English mainstream."

Marian, V., Shook, A., & Schroeder, S. R. (2013). Bilingual two-way immersion programs benefit academic achievement. Bilingual Research Journal, 36(2), 167–186. Retrieved from

From the Abstract:
"The effects of bilingual education on reading and math achievement were examined by comparing test scores across different elementary-school programs. Results revealed that bilingual two-way immersion programs benefited both minority-language and majority-language students."

Slavin, R. E., Madden, N., Calderón, M., Chamberlain, A., & Hennessy, M. (2011). Reading and language outcomes of a multiyear randomized evaluation of transitional bilingual education. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 33(1), 47–58. Retrieved from

From the Abstract:
"This article reports the outcomes of a multiyear study comparing the English and Spanish language and reading performance of Spanish-dominant children randomly assigned, beginning in kindergarten, to transitional bilingual education (TBE) or structured English immersion (SEI) for periods of up to 5 years."

Steele, J. L., Slater, R. O., Zamarro, G., Miller, T., Li, J., Burkhauser, S., & Bacon, M. (2017). Effects of dual-language immersion programs on student achievement: Evidence from lottery data. American Educational Research Journal, 54(1-suppl), 282S–306S.

From the Abstract:
"Using data from seven cohorts of language immersion lottery applicants in a large, urban school district, we estimate the causal effects of immersion programs on students' test scores in reading, mathematics, and science and on English learners' (EL) reclassification. … We find little benefit in terms of mathematics and science performance but also no detriment."

Umansky, I. M., Valentino, R. A., & Reardon, S. F. (2015). The promise of bilingual and dual immersion education (CEPA Working Paper No. 15-11). Stanford, CA: Stanford University, Stanford Center for Education Policy Analysis. Retrieved from

From the Introduction:
"Our research shows that EL students in English immersion programs generally have higher English proficiency and standardized academic test scores by second grade than their peers in two-language programs (bilingual and dual immersion programs). By late elementary or middle school, however, these differences are generally eliminated or reversed. By these later grades, ELs who spend their elementary school years in two-language programs have test scores, English proficiency levels, and reclassification rates that are, on average, as high as or higher than similar students who were in English immersion classrooms."

Vela, A., Jones, D., Mundy, M.-A., & Isaacson, C. (2017). Determining the effectiveness of bilingual programs on third grade state exam scores. Research in Higher Education Journal, 33.

From the Abstract:
"This ex-post-facto quasi-experimental research design was conducted by selecting a convenient sample of approximately 2,000 3rd grade ELLs who took the regular reading and math English STAAR test during the 2014-15 school year in an urban southern Texas school district. Conclusions to the findings determined that there were significant differences among the three educational programs for ELL students in third grade on the STAAR test results in the regular English math STAAR test for ELL students in third grade, but did not find significant differences in the test scores in the regular English reading STAAR test results."


Keywords and Search Strings: The following keywords, subject headings, and search strings were used to search reference databases and other sources: Dual language OR Two-way immersion, English learner, Reading OR Literacy OR English language arts, Achievement OR Outcome

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