Association between dual-language education and mathematics development in elementary school

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Reyes, Jared
Parham, Douglas F.

Children who learn to use two languages at an early age could be at an academic advantage in subjects not typically associated with linguistic or verbal acumen. However, culturally and linguistically diverse students tend to fall behind their mainstream peers in mathematics achievement. The purpose of this study was to determine how dual-language education affects the acquisition and trajectory of mathematic skills in primary education. A retrospective cohort study was conducted of five years of math computation (M-COMP) and math concepts and application (M-CAP) assessment scores from students at two local elementary schools from a Midwestern school district. One school used a two-way dual-language model for all students during the study period. A demographically comparable school was used as a control for this study. During fourth and fifth grade, students at the control school had higher M-COMP scores during the winter and spring probes than their dual-language peers. No significant difference was found in fall probe M-COMP scores. M-CAP scores in the dual-language program were starting to exceed those in the traditional education program by fourth grade. No differences were found between the schools during the winter and spring probes. fall M-CAP scores in the dual-language program were higher for the fifth grade year. For both assessments, primary English speakers outperformed their linguistically diverse peers. The findings imply that dual-language education can potentially have a positive effect on conceptual math development, and that language may have an increasingly important part to play in mitigating disparities in mathematics achievement.

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Thesis (Ph.D.)-- Wichita State University, College of Health Professions, Dept. of Communication Sciences and Disorders