The What Works Clearinghouse of the U.S. Department of Education has found that Read Well, a reading curriculum for kindergartners and 1st graders, has “potentially positive effects” on English-language development for English-language learners. The clearinghouse didn’t find the curriculum to have discernible effects on reading for English-language learners.
The clearinghouse has tough criteria for studies to meet its “evidence standards.” In the case of Read Well, the Clearinghouse reviewed five studies, but found that only one, an examination of the results of 34 1st grade ELLs in rural Colorado, met its criteria. I previously blogged about how the clearinghouse didn’t find any studies of the popular Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol met its criteria and was unable to shed any light on the effectiveness of that method.
I just searched the What Works database to see if the clearinghouse has found any approaches to have “positive effects” for the English-language development of ELLs. Peer tutoring and response groups is the only one that has received such a high rating. In peer tutoring, one student provides coaching to another. In peer response groups, four or five students work together to complete a common task such as answering comprehension questions or editing a piece of writing. Each student in the group has a different job, such as one edits for spelling and another provides feedback on writing clarity.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.