Eric.ed.gov – Early RCT Findings for ELL Elementary Student Learning Outcomes after a Two-Year Pedagogical Intervention

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The Instructional Conversation (IC) is a complete classroom pedagogy that focuses on teaching through small-group dialogue with students allowing responsive instruction for each student. The IC is anchored by cognitive-developmental theory and by four decades of multi-method quasi-experimental studies. This study describes the first research of an Institute Education Sciences-funded, randomized efficacy trial of IC effects on standardized test outcomes for both English Language Learner (ELL) and Non-ELL students. The main research question for this study is: Do ELLs taught by teachers who implement the IC pedagogical model perform above controls? The study aims to explore how well and for whom the pedagogy works if indeed effects are found. The focus in this multi-cohort design (over three years) involves districts and schools where students are clustered. This efficacy study takes place across 12 school districts in the state of Georgia with moderate ELL concentration (10-48%). Teachers were recruited using various communications and local meetings to explain the study design and incentives for the two-year commitment required. 121 teachers completed the trial across three randomized cohorts. In the two cohorts for whom data is available, data was analyzed from 1,527 students nested in the randomly assigned classrooms during the efficacy year following a year of professional development. Principals assigned teachers to students in ways that varied by district and school characteristics, so some teachers were the sole study participants in their schools and the others were in schools with other control or experimental teachers. The research design is a clustered randomized controlled trial at the classroom level and designed to avoid the most common confounding factors. Following What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) standards, the outcome variables are standardized student scores from the Georgia Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT), standardized tests given to both 3rd and 5th grade students across five content areas (English Language Arts, Reading, Math, Science, and Social Studies). Data regarding student standardized achievement were gathered from participating school districts for two of three cohorts of teachers (n = 121), of which the experimental group (n = 59) implemented the IC. All the findings regarding test outcomes use standardized Z-scores for each grade level (given that these standardized scores are not scaled across grade level), the measure of each student’s test score with the mean subtracted, standardized in number of standard deviations by grade level, then aggregated for the final analyses. Findings show that ELL students’ reading and other areas of academic performance improved through the IC approach. ELL students’ learning potential can be assisted by teaching practices sensitive to language and literacy development, and these IC discussions in general are still not generally found in most regular elementary schools. Tables and a figure are appended.

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Troels Gannerup Christensen

Jeg er ansat som adjunkt hos Læreruddannelsen i Jelling, hvor jeg underviser i matematik, specialiseringsmodulet teknologiforståelse, praktik m.m. Jeg har tidligere været ansat som pædagogisk konsulent i matematik og tysk hos UCL ved Center for Undervisningsmidler (CFU) i Vejle og lærer i udskolingen (7.-9. klasse) på Lyshøjskolen i Kolding. Jeg er ejer af og driver bl.a. hjemmesiderne www.lærklokken.dk og www.iundervisning.dk, ggbkursus.dk og er tidligere fagredaktør på matematik på emu.dk. Jeg går ind for, at læring skal være let tilgængelig og i størst mulig omfang gratis at benytte.

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