Equity in Representing Literacy Growth in Dual Language Immersion for Emerging Bilingual Students

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This study sheds light on how minority and majority language students in dual language immersion programs in one U.S. state are developing their biliteracy skills so that their academic needs can best be met and inequities originating from a sole focus on English assessment data can be identified and addressed.
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Recent research findings on the cognitive and academic advantages of bilingualism (Adesope, Lavin, Thompson, & Ungerleider, 2010; Lindholm-Leary & Block, 2010) have contributed to the proliferation of dual language immersion (DLI) programs in the United States. Despite their integrative and additive nature, concerns have been raised about lack of equity in their implementation (Cervantes-Soon, 2014; Palmer, 2010; Valdés, 1997, 2018). In this article, we argue that the fact that DLI research almost exclusively focuses on English outcomes contributes to inequity. In order to represent the full achievements of emerging bilingual students, we designed a longitudinal study to examine the biliteracy growth rates of third grade minority and majority language students enrolled in all of the DLI programs that had longitudinal achievement data in the two program languages in one state in the U.S. Results of the three-level linear growth model estimated on participants’ reading scale scores, while controlling for their demographic characteristics, show that while both groups made progress in reading achievement in both languages over time, majority language students exhibited faster growth rates in Spanish than minority language students and minority language students had faster growth rates in English than majority language students. However, the difference in growth rate between the two groups was only statistically significant in Spanish. The implications of having only considered outcomes in English are discussed in light of the study findings.
Center for Applied Linguistics

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