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Language proficiency, home-language status, and English vocabulary development: A longitudinal follow-up of the Word Generation program*



This longitudinal quasi-experimental study examines the effects of Word Generation, a middle-school vocabulary intervention, on the learning, maintenance, and consolidation of academic vocabulary for students from English-speaking homes, proficient English speakers from language-minority homes, and limited English-proficiency students. Using individual growth modeling, we found that students receiving Word Generation improved more on target word knowledge during the instructional period than students in comparison schools did, on average. We found an interaction between instruction and home-language status such that English-proficient students from language-minority homes improved more than English-proficient students from English-speaking homes. Limited English-proficiency students, however, did not realize gains equivalent to those of more proficient students from language-minority homes during the instructional period. We administered follow-up assessments in the fall after the instructional period ended and in the spring of the following year to determine how well students maintained and consolidated target academic words. Students in the intervention group maintained their relative improvements at both follow-up assessments.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Joshua F. Lawrence, Department of Education, University of California, Irvine, 3200 Education Building, Irvine, CA 92697-5500, USA


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The SERP–BPS field site and thus the original planning for Word Generation were supported by grants to the Strategic Education Research Partnership (SERP) from the Spencer Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; further development and evaluation of Word Generation were supported by a Senior Urban Education Fellowship awarded to Catherine Snow by the Council of Great City Schools. Joshua Lawrence was supported by funds awarded to Catherine Snow by the Spencer Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York. We also acknowledge the funding to SERP from the Lowenstein Foundation, to develop professional development opportunities through The first author was supported by Grant Number R305A090555, Word Generation: An Efficacy Trial from the Institute of Educational Sciences (IES), US Department of Education (USDE) during the preparation of this paper. Additional support was received from Grant Number R305A050056, National Research and Development Center for English Language Learners. The contents do not necessarily represent the positions or policies of IES or USDE and readers should not assume endorsement by the federal government for any of the positions or statements expressed herein. Our thanks to the anonymous reviewers of this journal for their insightful comments.



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