Projections estimate that by 2030, English language learners will comprise 25% of the nation's students, 77% of whom will speak Spanish. Yet as we gain this rich diversity, there is little evidence-based research addressing what works in literacy for the Spanish-speaking population. Trisha Borman and colleagues recently reported first-year results of a randomized study of Descubriendo La Lectura (DLL), an individually administered Spanish literacy program for first graders struggling with literacy in their native Spanish, examining its effects on both Spanish and English literacy.
DLL incorporates the research-proven practices of 1:1 tutoring, using a student's native language to improve their second language, intervening early (in first grade), data use to track and guide progress, professional development, research-proven practices, and teacher collaboration.
Subjects were first-grade students in 22 schools in 3 states, statistically matched at baseline and randomly assigned to receive DLL either in the 2016 school year (experimental group, n=78), or the 2017 school year (delayed treatment control group, n=74). Students qualified for DLL if they spoke Spanish at home and scored below 25% on the IdO, a test that assesses literacy. Students were also pretested and posttested using Logramos (the Spanish equivalent of the ITBS) and the English ITBS. The experimental group received 30-minute lessons daily with students and teachers meeting 1:1, progressing at their own pace until they qualified to exit the program and were posttested. This process took 12-20 weeks, depending on the student.
Results favored the DLL group, with statistically significant effect sizes on the Spanish Logramos averaging +0.55 (p<.001). On the English ITBS, the mean effect size was +0.17, which was not significant. There were larger positive outcomes on measures made by the developers. The program will continue to be studied in two subsequent cohorts.