Adult ESL Literacy Impact
Study:
Description and Implications
Larry Condelli
Stephanie Cronen
American Institutes for
Research, USA
LESLLA
Fifth Annual Symposium
Banff, AB, Canada
September 29, 2009
1
Overview of Presentation
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Summary of Purpose, Research Questions
and Design
Present descriptive data on students and
teachers
Discussion and implications of potential
findings
2
Evaluation of an ESL Literacy
Intervention: Sam and Pat
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Structured language approach
Adapted from Wilson Reading System
Never before evaluated for ESL
Literacy activities organized
around basal reader/workbook
Heavily phonics-based
3
Sam and Pat: Instructional
Approach
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Direct instruction, transparent
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Controlled text, vocabulary and grammar
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Words match phonics already learned
Sequential
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Rules explained, modeled, practiced
Easy to hard in defined steps
Multi-sensory, kinesthetic
ESL instruction to support literacy
4
Sam and Pat: Literacy and
Language Skills Covered
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Phonics for reading and writing
Sight words
Oral reading for
accuracy and fluency
Reading comprehension
Vocabulary
Speaking and listening
Grammar
5
Structured Two Part Lesson
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Part 1:
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Rereading familiar text
Pre-reading (picture
story)
Letters and phonics
Vocabulary and
grammar
Sight words
Conversation
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Part 2:
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Review of Part 1
content
Read story
Written exercises
6
Research Questions
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How effective is instruction using the
intervention in improving the English
reading, speaking and listening skills of
low-literate adult ESL learners?
Is the intervention more effective for
certain groups of students (e.g., language,
literacy level)?
Do differences in level of implementation
of Sam and Pat and other instruction
relate to variation in impacts?
7
Study Design
10 adult ESOL centers across USA
 Paired intervention and “normal” ESL literacy
classes (34 total)
 Random assignment of students and teachers
 Minimum 5 hours/week 10-12 weeks
instruction with approach
 Other instruction also
provided (5-10 hours/week)
 Each class conducted
twice over a year
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8
Student Flow in the Study
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
Student applies to center
Assessed for NLL
Recruited into study
Gives informed consent
Random assignment to class
Pretests administered
Instruction
Posttests administered
Intake
NL Literacy
Recruited into Study
Informed consent
Random Assignment
Pre-test
Post-test
Instruction
9
Students Assessments
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Phonics and decoding
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Word attack
Letter/Word ID
Reading comprehension
Vocabulary (ROWPVT)
Listening, oral expression
10
Sam And Pat Teachers in the
Study
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All teachers randomly assigned
3-day teacher training on curriculum
Follow-up visits by trainers
Classroom observations
to monitor fidelity
Refresher webinar at
start of second term
11
Classroom Observations
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Literacy development
instruction:
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Pre-literacy
Phonics
Fluency
Reading strategies &
comprehension
Writing
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ESL Instruction:
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Oral language
development
Grammar, etc.
Vocabulary
Socio-cultural
knowledge
Functional literacy
12
Students in the Study
“True” Literacy (LESLLA)
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Little or no literacy in native language
Limited oral English
Education: 0-6 years
Languages:
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Haitian-Creole
Spanish
Burmese
Others
13
Students in the Study
Non-Roman Alphabet Literate
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Some Literacy in native language with nonRoman script
Mean education: 6 and more years
Limited oral English
Languages:
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Armenian
Arabic
Farsi
Chinese
Others
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Description of Sites
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Ten sites participated:
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1 site in San Francisco CA area
1 site in Los Angeles CA area
3 sites in Miami FL area
2 sites in Chicago IL area
3 sites in Houston TX area
Sites included adult ed centers, high
schools, and community centers
Type of programs included…??
15
Description of Students
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1,344 students participated for one
term
They attended a range of low-level
classes in the study, with ESOL
Literacy being the most common:
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ESOL Literacy
Low Beginning ESOL
Beginning ESOL (combined w/Literacy)
Students in the sample had been in
the U.S. for an average of 4.7 years
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Description of Students
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Spanish was the most common
language, followed by Armenian
17
Description of Students, Cont.
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Average years of education
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6.7 years of education outside the U.S.
7.7 years of education total
Why so high?
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As a group, only Haitian students were
“true literacy”
Spanish-speakers ranged from true
literacy to beginning ESL level
Non-Roman alphabet students ranged
from beginning ESL level to much higher
18
Description of Students, Cont.
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Over half (58%) of Ss were female
Student ages ranged from 18 to 84
19
Teachers in the Study
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33 teachers participated in the study in
Fall, and 31 participated in Winter/Spring
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1 class pair/2 teachers were dropped before
the second term due to insufficient numbers
of new students enrolling in their classes
1 teacher taught 2 treatment classes both
terms
Teachers had 7.5 years of experience
teaching adult ESOL, on average
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5.3 years of experience teaching literacy-level
20
Teachers in the Study
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The majority of teachers (85%) had some
form of certification
21
Teachers in the Study
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Most teachers’ highest degree received
was either a Bachelor’s (42%) or a
Master’s (48%)
61% of teachers were male
Race/ethnicity varied
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40% white, nonHispanic
30% Black or African American
24% Hispanic or Latino
6% Asian or American Indian
22
Teachers in the Study
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Most teachers spoke a language other
than English
23
Findings and Impacts….
24
SORRY!!!
We’re not sure yet (and couldn’t
tell you now anyway….)
25
Observations and Discussion
Implications of Possible Findings
for Practice and Research for
LESLLA Students
26
Implications for LESLLA Practice
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Let’s talk about the 3 most likely results
scenarios:
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Positive impact on decoding; no other impacts
No impacts on any outcomes
Negative impacts on some ESL outcomes
27
Implications for LESLLA Practice
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Positive impact on decoding; no other
impacts. Given Sam & Pat strong phonics
focus this is the expected and most likely
scenario.
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But is improving only decoding after 3 months
of instruction enough to warrant using it?
Would the impact differ by type of student?
What would the implications of these results
be for teachers considering Sam & Pat or a
similar approach?
28
Implications for LESLLA Practice
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Gains for all but no differences between
groups
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Sam & Pat is no more effective than other
types of ESL literacy instruction
Under what conditions, then, would Sam &
Pat be a good choice for instruction?
What are some potential explanations for
these results from your perspective?
29
Implications for LESLLA Practice
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Negative impacts on some ESL outcomes
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Some teachers expressed concern about
taking 5 hours of instruction away from ESL
activities, so we could see a negative impact
on vocab or listening tests
How likely is this scenario?
What other explanations could we investigate
in our analyses?
30
Context of LESLLA Research
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The study took place in a challenging
environment that makes having/finding an
impact difficult, but that represents reality
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Low exposure and instructional time in adult
ESL class
Short class duration
 Limited instructional time and irregular attendance
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Training teachers
Lack of specialized training in literacy
 Short training time available
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31
Thank you!
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Contacts
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[email protected]
[email protected]
Enjoy Banff and LESLLA
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