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Johns Hopkins Study Shows Benefits of Middlebury Interactive Languages' Programs for English Learners

MIDDLEBURY, Vt., March 10, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Middlebury Interactive Languages today released a third-party study of its digital programs for English Language Learners (ELL) that showed strong support for the program among students, teachers and parents, as well as evidence of early progress on a key student assessment for non-native English speakers. The study focused on a pilot program in the Hartford (CT) Public Schools using Middlebury Interactive's rigorous digital ELL curriculum that is now being implemented in districts across the country.

The study by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Research and Reform in Education (CRRE) was conducted in HPS over the 2014-2015 school year and concluded that the new ELL program had "a measurable benefit to pilot students according to both quantitative and qualitative factors." Specifically, the CRRE found that the pool of 300 students in grades 4-8 using the Middlebury Interactive program outperformed the district's other ELLs on the LAS Links Benchmark reading assessment.

"The Johns Hopkins' findings reinforce what we have seen in Hartford and other districts across the country: when presented with rigorous and interactive digital content, ELLs will rise to the challenge," said Middlebury Interactive Languages CEO Jane Swift. "We believe that the flexible, culturally-focused digital model we started in Hartford can help school districts nationwide close the ELL achievement gap and help non-native English speakers become more confident, independent learners."

Middlebury Interactive's new ELL programs, which include digital curriculum frameworks for elementary, middle and high school students and teacher professional development, were developed by Middlebury Interactive's in-house academic team of language professors, ELL experts and education technologists. The ELL programs, which are also distributed by partner Fuel EducationTM, are modeled after Middlebury Interactive's world language courses and, like those programs, integrate research-based learning techniques, cultural awareness and project-based activities into blended learning classrooms.

Customized versions of Middlebury Interactive's ELL programs are now being used at districts across the country, including the Oakland (CA) Public Schools, Clarke County (GA) Public Schools and the Lawrence (MA) Public Schools.

The CRRE study showed that teachers in the HPS pilot program agreed that the program was flexible, taught students at their grade levels and that the "texts and videos in the program promote cultural awareness and appreciation." The study included interviews with teachers, principals, ELL coaches and others. The teachers reported a change in classroom culture with better attendance and engagement, and that students were becoming more self-directed learners. Some direct quotes from the teachers include:

  • "The students enjoy the lessons very much, to the point where they don't want to leave the class. The motivation has been positive in their academic growth."
  • "My ELL instruction has been more efficient by having this program, which addresses reading, writing, speaking and listening."
  • "I have seen students take more responsibility for their own learning."

The CRRE team also conducted classroom observations, in which they saw "the Middlebury Interactive classes as lively sessions in which most students seemed engaged and interested in the lessons." The digital curriculum also received high marks from HPS principals, who noted how it enabled teachers to reach students on an individual level.

The study also highlighted early progress on the LAS Links reading assessment, a key benchmark of student learning. While CRRE noted that it was early in the evaluation process, students using the Middlebury Interactive program showed more progress on the LAS Link reading assessment than HPS students not enrolled in the pilot program. For details on the CRRE report, please click here.

Middlebury Interactive's new curriculum frameworks are designed at the specific grade level of the learner and can be used to teach students with all native language backgrounds, including Spanish, French/Haitian Creole, Chinese, Arabic and Vietnamese. In support of the academic team's design of the curriculum modules, Middlebury Interactive worked with Dr. Jim Cummins, one of North America's foremost experts on ELL instruction and the author of some of the most influential academic studies on the topic.

The professional development program is customizable and provides extensive support and training for ELL teachers. Districts can choose from a menu of upfront and ongoing professional development themes to meet specific needs of their teachers. In addition, teachers have access to a variety of digital support, including webinars, online communities of practice and other digital resources.

About Middlebury Interactive Languages

Middlebury Interactive is the academic leader in language instruction for K-12 students. Middlebury Interactive provides access to superior language programs and prepares students with the skills and cultural understanding to compete in the 21st Century global marketplace. Middlebury Interactive has taken Middlebury College's renowned world language curriculum, developed and refined over the past 100 years, and translated it to the digital and K-12 setting. Middlebury Interactive also offers in-person language immersion summer academies for middle and high school students.

CONTACT: Cort Boulanger 339-222-2442 cboulanger@middleburyinteractive.com

Source: Middlebury Interactive Languages