The Impact of a K–3 Spanish Transitional Bilingual Education Program on Former English Language Learners

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According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), from 2000 to 2016, the number of English language learners (ELLs) increased from 3.8 million to 4.9 million throughout the United States, with the highest number of ELLs in urban school districts (NCES, 2019; Counseling@NYU Staff, 2018). The language most spoken by ELLs is Spanish, consisting of 76.6 percent of ELLs enrolled in U.S. school districts (NCES, 2019; Counseling@NYU Staff, 2018; Ovando & Combs, 2018). The State of New Jersey has also experienced continuous growth in ELL enrollment in New Jersey school districts (State of New Jersey Department of Education, 2020). As states develop bilingual programs to address the academic and language needs of ELLs, many states, inclusive of New Jersey, are faced with limited guidance on developing effective programs, such as a transitional bilingual education (TBE) program (Thomas & Collier, 1997). The purpose of this research was to examine the impact of a K–3 Spanish transitional bilingual education (TBE) program on former English language learners as measured by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) for English language arts, a standardized literacy assessment over four consecutive years, from 2014–2015 to 2017–2018. This quantitative study analyzed ELA PARCC performance of former ELLs for four consecutive school years considering the variables of gender, entry date into the TBE program, participation in district preschool dual language program, country of birth and exiting grade level of TBE program. The study concluded that the considered K–3 Spanish TBE program had a positive impact on former ELLs as measured by ELA PARCC over a four-year period. These results reinforced the notion that an effective TBE program establishes a cognitive and academic foundation in Spanish, which will result in a strong and positive effect on the development of English language literacy (Collier, 1992; Cummins, 2001; Hakuta,1986; Slavin & Cheung, 2005; Thomas & Collier, 1997).

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