While English language learners and disadvantaged native English speakers may have sufficient skills to engage in everyday conversation, many struggle with academic language, the more formal language typically used in school. In recent years, educators have linked lack of proficiency in academic language to concerns about students’ literacy and have hypothesized that academic language skills contribute to reading comprehension and success in core content area classes.
While existing research shows that some specific practices effectively enhance students’ academic language skills, evidence is lacking regarding the effectiveness of these practices at a large scale. By studying up to three different academic language interventions with elementary school students in as many as 12 districts, MDRC and its partners will examine the impact and implementation of these practices at scale, measure variation in impacts across settings, and investigate relationships between impacts and key implementation features.
MDRC will evaluate the impact of training and supporting teachers in the implementation of academic language interventions in late elementary grades in schools across the nation. Based on a school-level experimental design, the study will estimate effects by comparing outcomes of students at elementary schools implementing each intervention to the outcomes of students at other elementary schools not implementing the interventions. In addition, findings on school context, the implementation of programs, and the contrast in services among the groups of schools will help create a framework for understanding the impact findings and what it takes to implement the tested practices with fidelity.