Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)




Faculty of Education

First Advisor

Dr. Steve Sider

Advisor Role

Thesis Advisor

Second Advisor

Dr. Carolyn FitzGerald

Advisor Role

Quantitative Research Advisor

Third Advisor

Dr. Linda Quirke

Advisor Role

External Examiner


English Language Learner (ELL) achievement on standardized testing in a second language (L2; English) has been shown to be compromised due to L2 literacy deficits demonstrated by many of these students (Cheng, Fox, & Zheng, 2007; Solorzano, 2008; Zheng, Cheng, & Klinger, 2007). ELL achievement results on the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) literacy requirement, the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT), have remained consistently a minimum of 10% below that of students whose first language (L1) is English (Education Quality and Accountability Office, 2015a). The focus of this quasi-experimental study was to improve ELL L2 literacy, specifically achievement of reading skills, using a targeted intervention which consisted of a series of balanced strategy literacy sessions. This explicitly instructed balanced strategy literacy program was delivered in an after school format to secondary school ELL students who were randomly assigned to treatment (use of L1 and L2) and sub-treatment groups (use of L2 only). Balanced strategy instruction utilized the construction-integration model of reading comprehension (Kintsch, 1988) as a direct application of social-cognitive constructivist theory to engage students in the building of L2 literacy skills through choral reading, guided reading, independent reading, peer discussions and high interest vocabulary development. Research results indicated that the treatment method used did not have a significant effect on ELL achievement of reading skills in L2, as measured by the 2014 OSSLT in comparison to pre-intervention achievement on the 2010 OSSLT. Research results also indicated higher achievement levels on the 2014 OSSLT for ELL students who had greater exposure to L2 development (e.g., prior courses, daily practice). Following the study, the ELL students’ development of L2 literacy skills continued within the context of secondary school credit courses towards successful completion of the OSSD. These findings suggest that more research is needed to determine the effective implementation of balanced strategy literacy programming as a support to ELL demonstration of graduation diploma requirements.

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