New Report: The Effects of an Academic Language Program on Student Reading Outcomes
Helping English learners and economically disadvantaged students read as well as their more advantaged peers is a challenge for many schools. Research suggests that an increased focus on learning of academic language—the formal language used to read, write, listen, and speak about the topics studied in school—may be one way to boost student and school success. This study tested a promising program to improve fourth- and fifth-grade students’ ability to understand academic language and support their reading achievement. The supplemental program included reading, speaking, and writing activities for students and professional development to support teacher delivery of the program. To determine the effectiveness of the program, the study compared student reading achievement in two groups: schools that implemented the program for one school year and schools that continued using their typical strategies.
Key findings include:
- The program did not affect the academic language skills or reading performance of students overall.
- Despite the program’s attention to instruction relevant to the specific learning needs of English learners and students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, the program had no effect on the language or reading performance of either group.
- The training and support provided to teachers during the year did not change most aspects of instruction that the program targeted, which might explain the lack of effects on student outcomes.
The Institute of Education Sciences, a part of the U.S. Department of Education, is the nation’s leading source for rigorous, independent education research, evaluation, statistics, and assessment.