School & District Management Report Roundup

Research Report: Bilingual Education

By Sarah D. Sparks — December 01, 2015 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Dual-language-immersion students in Portland, Ore., outperformed their peers in English-reading skills by a full school year’s worth of learning by the end of middle school.

Those are the preliminary conclusions of a four-year, randomized trial of the dual-language program by the research firm RAND, the American Councils for International Education, and the Portland, Ore. school district.

About 10 percent of the district’s 46,000 students attend dual-language programs in Spanish, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, and Vietnamese. Seats are oversubscribed and assigned by lottery, which allowed researchers to run a randomized trial of about 1,600 students who started kindergarten in 2004-2010. Schools with dual-language-immersion programs had comparable class sizes and resources.

Researchers compared students who were randomly assigned to the immersion programs to those who had applied unsuccessfully for the lottery. Those who participated in the immersion programs scored significantly higher on the Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills in reading; by the equivalent of seven months of learning by the end of 5th grade and by nine months of learning by the end of 8th grade. Students who were native English speakers got the same boost as English-learners. There was no benefit, but also no negative effect, on immersion students’ scores in math or science.

In Portland’s two-way immersion programs, students start out in kindergarten learning 90 percent of the time in their native language, and 10 percent of the time in the language they are learning. The proportion of time spent in the target language increases 10 percent each year, until students in grades 4 and up learned for half of their time in each language.

Among students who started out as English-language learners, those who attended dual-language programs were 3 percentage points less likely to still be an ELL by 6th grade than English-learners who were not in dual-language.

A version of this article appeared in the December 02, 2015 edition of Education Week as Bilingual Education


Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
English-Language Learners Webinar English Learners and the Science of Reading: What Works in the Classroom
ELs & emergent bilinguals deserve the best reading instruction! The Reading League & NCEL join forces on best practices. Learn more in our webinar with both organizations.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
Challenging the Stigma: Emotions and STEM
STEM isn't just equations and logic. Join this webinar and discover how emotions fuel innovation, creativity, & problem-solving in STEM!
Content provided by Project Lead The Way

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management What the Research Says Most Schools Have Early-Warning Systems. Some Kids Are Still Getting Lost
A study finds that one such system prevented absenteeism among some students but not others.
4 min read
Illustration of a warning symbol.
Nuthawut Somsuk/iStock/Getty
School & District Management Opinion Restorative Practices Don’t Just Belong in the Classroom. Leaders Should Use Them, Too
Respectful conflict resolution, starting meetings with a talking circle, and other ways this administrator is walking the walk.
Sonja Gedde
5 min read
A team of colleagues comes to a resolution in a conceptual illustration about building bridges
Vanessa Solis/Education Week via Canva
School & District Management Electric Buses Hit Some Road Bumps, But They're Still Catching On
The number of electric school buses is rising—and there’s no shortage of growing pains involving funding, legal mandates, and operations.
8 min read
Yellow electric school bus plugged in at a charging station.
Thomas W Farlow/iStock/Getty
School & District Management This State Created a Retention System for Principals. Here’s Why It Worked
Missouri has deepened the support it offers to new principals through a partly federally funded, two-year mentoring program.
6 min read
Photos of principals walking in school hallway.
E+ / Getty