WWC review of this study

Academic Achievement of Students in Dual Language Immersion [Grade 4]

Watzinger-Tharp, Johanna; Swenson, Kristin; Mayne, Zachary (2018). International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, v21 n8 p913-928 2018. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1199637

  • Quasi-Experimental Design
    , grade

Reviewed: March 2023

No statistically significant positive
Meets WWC standards with reservations
General Mathematics Achievement outcomes—Indeterminate effect found for the domain
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

Utah Math Criterion Reference Test (CRT)

Dual language programs vs. Business as usual

-2 Years

Full sample, Grade 4 (2 years before end of intervention in Grade 6);
2,287 students




Show Supplemental Findings

Utah Math Criterion Reference Test (CRT)

Dual language programs vs. Business as usual

-2 Years

Non-English learners, Grade 4 (2 years before end of intervention in Grade 6);
2,129 students





Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

  • 7% English language learners

  • Other or unknown: 100%
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  • Race
    Other or unknown
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    Other or unknown    
  • Eligible for Free and Reduced Price Lunch
    Free or reduced price lunch (FRPL)    
    Other or unknown    


The study took place in elementary schools in Utah.

Study sample

The manuscript contains analyses involving students in grades 3 and 4, and each analysis is considered a distinct study. This review focuses on comparisons among grade 4 students. A total of 2,287 students in grade 4 were included in the study. The 2,287 students were in 26 schools that offered a Dual Language Immersion (DLI) program and 26 schools that did not offer a DLI program. All students had grade 3 and grade 4 scores on Utah’s standardized achievement tests in English language arts and math. Approximately 35% of students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch and 7% were English learners. When race and ethnicity are reported in a single grouping that sums to 100%, 73% of students in the study were White. Twenty-one percent were Hispanic or Latino.

Intervention Group

Students in the DLI schools received instruction in two languages using either a one-way or a two-way model. The one-way model used in 17 schools served English speakers and provided instruction in English and in one of three target languages: Chinese (six schools), French (five schools), or Spanish (six schools). The two-way models used in nine schools served native Spanish and native English speakers and provided instruction in English and Spanish. DLI was implemented in whole schools (or as a strand within a school) from grades 1 through 6. In grade 4, DLI students received half of their total daily instruction across all content areas in English and half in the target language. Of the total daily instructional time, grade 4 students spent one hour (16.5%) receiving math instruction in English and 30 minutes (8.5%) engaged in math reinforcement in the target language. DLI schools used one of two math curricula (EnVision Math or another option for the Spanish programs).

Comparison Group

Students in the comparison group received business-as-usual grade four instruction. Comparison group schools used a wide range of math curricula, materials, and practices. Comparison teachers may have participated in other business-as-usual training and professional development offered by their schools or school districts.

Support for implementation

Teachers in DLI schools received training and lessons plans in the target language. A statewide advisory council met regularly and provided support and reinforcement of the DLI program model with principals and other administrators at the school and district levels.


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