The Science of Learning Blog

September 2, 2010

79% of ELL Students Increase Proficiency by One or More Levels

BY Melissa Agocs

During the 2008 – 2009 school year, a group of kindergarten through sixth-grade students used the Fast ForWord® products. All participants were English language learners.

Participants used products from both the Fast ForWord Language and Fast ForWord Reading series. Kindergartners typically started with the Fast ForWord Language Basics product and then progressed through Fast ForWord Reading Prep and Fast ForWord Reading Level 1 while students in first grade and above started with the Fast ForWord Language product, and then progressed through Fast ForWord Language to Reading followed by the Reading product.  On average, students used the products for 54 days across a 3½ month period.

The Arizona English Language Learner Assessment, abbreviated as AZELLA, is used to determine the English language proficiency of Arizona K-12 students whose primary home language is other than English. AZELLA results include a composite proficiency level score and separate subtest scores for Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Total Writing. Scores are reported in terms of scaled scores and proficiency levels.

The five proficiency levels of the AZELLA are Pre-Emergent, Emergent, Basic, Intermediate, and Proficient. Students in this study were assessed on the AZELLA in the fall, prior to using Fast ForWord products, and again in the spring, after using the products.

Seventy-nine percent of the students increased their proficiency by one or more levels. According to a study through the Arizona Department of Education, students typically have a difficult time moving beyond the Intermediate level, with 38% moving to Proficient after one year, and 46% moving to Proficient after two years.  After using the Fast ForWord products, 68% of the Intermediate students reached the Proficient level.  In fact, 22% of the students who were initially at Basic reached Proficient.

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