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Structured Immersion for Language Minority Students: Results of a Longitudinal Evaluation

Gersten, R.
This article describes a 7 year-long study conducted to test the effect of a structured immersion program, based on the principles of Direct Instruction, on students with limited English proficiency. In 1979, an English immersion program was designed using both developmental and remedial Direct Instruction programs. Essential components of the immersion program included all instruction in English, but at a level understood by the students, the use of bilingual instructors to ensure student comprehension, and carefully controlled vocabulary and sequenced lessons. A comparison group from the district’s bilingual classes was used for students in the primary grades (grades one and two), but not for students in the intermediate grades (grades three to six). The Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills (CTBS) was used to measure student achievement. The Language Assessment Scale was used to measure the entering English language capabilities of all students. Results indicated a significant improvement on all domains for the 1980-81 intermediate group students. Intermediate group students in the 1981-82 group recorded significant gains in all three domains when the parametric t-test was used. Significant growth for reading and math was found when the non-parametric Wilcoxon test was used. For students in the primary grades, results indicated significant differences in reading and math, but not language, in comparison to the control group. Seventy five percent of students in the immersion program were at or above grade level in reading, and 96% in math. Nineteen percent of the students in the comparison group were at or above grade level in reading and 62% in math. The average scores for students in the immersion group exceeded the national average for reading, math, and language. Student performance remained above average at the end of third grade and during the fourth grade. (Copyright © 2011, National Institute for Direct Instruction (NIFDI). All rights reserved).
Research areas:
Main publication type:
Program Effectiveness
Englsh Lngge Lrnrs; DISTAR Language; Corrective Reading; Language; Reading; Math; Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills; Language Assessment Scale
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 7(3), 187-196. Republished in 1997 in Effective School Practices, 16(3), 21-29.
Design type:
Pretest posttest norm comparison design, pretest posttest control group design, and posttest only control group design
Fidelity monitored:
Students included:
Low income students, Asian students, English Language Learner (ELL) students, students with limited English proficiency, elementary students, Pacific Island students
West coast, elementary school

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