Grade 6 French Immersion Students' Performance on Large-Scale Reading, Writing, and Mathematics Tests: Building Explanations


  • Miles Turnbull
  • Doug Hart
  • Sharon Lapkin



We analyzed data from Ontario's provincial testing program to ascertain if the reading, writing, and mathematics skills of grade 6 immersion students were comparable to those of regular English program students. Various immersion program designs were taken into account. The analysis confirms the results of earlier program evaluations that any lags in immersion students' achievement in reading, writing, and math disappear by grade 6. We offer two explanations to account for this result. The lag explanation holds that taking reading, writing, and math in French until the end of grade 3 creates a lag in achievement until English is introduced into the curriculum, after which immersion students catch up to regular students' performance. The selection explanation suggests that immersion test performance improves by grade 6 relative to regular English program counterparts because the composition of the grade 6 cohort is more select than that of earlier cohorts.