English Language and Literacy Acquisition-Validation i3 Evaluation (Valid 22) Final Report
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The English Language and Literacy Acquisition–Validation (ELLA-V) study was a five-year evaluation of a program that provided professional development, coaching, and curricula that targeted English-as-a-second-language (ESL) instruction for teachers of K–3 English learners (ELs). The project was federally funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund (PR/Award Number U411B120047). Professors at Texas A&M University developed the professional development, the coaching program, and the curricula. Researchers at the Center for Research and Reform in Education (CRRE) at Johns Hopkins University were the independent evaluators. ELLA-V was implemented in 79 schools in 10 school districts in Texas in the 2013–14 through 2016–17 school years. The ELLA-V professional development and curricula focused on literacy and science content, as well as cognitive-academic language proficiency to progress EL students’ English language acquisition. Teachers received the intervention for a single year, dependent on grade-level implementation. Each school year, treatment teachers in one grade level received bimonthly virtual professional training for 18 sessions between September and May. Schools were randomly assigned to one of the three treatment conditions: Treatment 1, Treatment 2, and Business-as-Usual. Treatment 1 and Treatment 2 received equivalent professional development and coaching, but curricula materials differed across the two treatments. The impact of ELLA-V on student and teacher outcomes was estimated using hierarchical linear modeling. Propensity score weighting was also used to estimate program impact on teacher outcomes and some student outcomes due to large differences at baseline. ELLA-V improved EL teachers’ quality of instruction, which led to improvements in oral language and phonological awareness for younger students and in science for third-grade students who were exposed to a literacy-infused science curriculum. Higher quality of instruction for treatment teachers was evident in increased use of ESL strategies (e.g., grouping activities, differentiated instruction, visuals for learning new vocabulary, and sentence stems) and a greater emphasis on cognitive-academic language proficiency compared with business-as-usual teachers. With one exception, ELLA-V did not impact EL students’ English language development, reading, writing, or self-esteem. This report concludes that the ELLA-V was mostly implemented with fidelity and yielded improved outcomes for EL students in some content areas. More research is needed to identify the cumulative effects across multiple grade levels of the ELLA-V approach (oral language to pre-reading to reading and writing) on EL students’ academic performance and English language proficiency.