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Portland study: Kids in immersion about a year ahead of non-immersion students

November 12, 2015

Study: Portland Immersion Students Become Better Readers, English Speakers

Students in Portland’s language immersion programs become better readers than their counterparts in other schools, according to a new study called “Study of Dual-Language Immersion in the Portland Public Schools.”The RAND Corporation and the American Councils for International Education compared language immersion students with other Portland students from 2004 through 2014.

Key Finding No. 1:  Students randomly assigned to immersion outperformed their peers in English reading by about seven months in fifth grade and nine months in eighth grade.

Ten percent of students in Portland Public Schools are in language immersion programs. The programs are in a quarter of district schools, with potentially more on the way.

Michael Bacon, assistant director of Portland’s dual-language programs, said the data show a statistically significant advantage in reading by fifth grade for students in language immersion programs.

“Conservatively, it’s almost nine months – like a full school year of increased outcomes for kids,” Bacon said. “It’s across the board, whether if you’re an English-only kid, or a Spanish speaker, or a speaker of the partner language.”

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