The Effects of Transitional Bilingual Education vs. Dual Language Immersion on English Language Learners' Reading Assessment Scores

The Effects of Transitional Bilingual Education vs. Dual Language Immersion on English Language Learners' Reading Assessment Scores

Vanessa Colón (Texas A&M University – Commerce, USA), Susan Szabo (Texas A&M University – Commerce, USA) and Jacqueline Riley (Texas A&M University – Commerce, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3955-1.ch007
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This action research study was completed in a North Texas school district where English language learners comprised 52% of the K-12 student population during the 2015-2016 academic school year. Data from a campus which used a two-way dual language immersion (DLI) program and another campus which used a transitional bilingual education (TBE) program were evaluated. The study analyzed the district's third to fifth grade reading assessment results of 128 students from the DLI campus and 223 from the TBE campus. Researchers compared the scores of students in each program to determine if one bilingual model produced higher scores than another. The results showed that there were greater gains for ELLs in the TBE program at all grade levels (third to fifth). Although the TBE program resulted in higher student scores, limitations make it unclear to what degree the program impacted students' achievement.
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Bilingual education exists as an approach that uses the native language to support the second language in a carefully structured and sequenced manner (Texas Education Code, 1995). In Texas, there are four different program models that can be used in bilingual education, but all have a component of structured English instruction and use the native language as a support to develop the second language. Amongst the different program models are the transitional bilingual education (TBE) and dual language immersion (DLI) programs. While some studies report that both transitional and dual language programs produce similar results (Gersten & Woodward, 1995; Murphy 2014; Nakamoto, Lindsey, & Manis, 2012), others argue that dual language programs result in higher long-term academic achievement than other bilingual education program models (Lindholm-Leary 2012; Lindholm-Leary & Borsato, 2005; Lindholm-Leary & Howard, 2008). Thus, more research is needed to help determine which program produces higher student achievement and how long students must be in a given program to see results.

In this study, the researchers completed an extensive literature review comparing the characteristics of the TBE and DLI program models. Next, reading assessment results of ELLs were collected from two campuses, which implemented the two different program models: a transitional bilingual education classroom (TBE) and a two-way dual language immersion program (DLI). Finally, the findings were analyzed and evaluated in an attempt to determine the effectiveness of each bilingual education model.

Key Terms in this Chapter

English Language Learner (ELL): An individual who is in the process of learning English.

Two-Way Dual Language Immersion: A bilingual program which includes both ELLs and native English speakers. Its goals are bilingualism, biliteracy and academic achievement. In the context of this article, the ELLs’ native language is Spanish.

Transitional Bilingual Education: A bilingual program that provides instruction to ELLs in their first and second languages with the intention of transitioning students into classes where just the second language is used for instruction. In the context of this article, students’ first language is Spanish and the second language is English.

Limit English Proficient (LEP): An individual who has limited English abilities.

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