Title: The Impact of Code-Switching Instruction on the Academic Achievement of Low-Income, African American Girls

Faculty: Maura Moyle

Abstract: Academic achievement and occupational success are critical issues for girls of color in Milwaukee. In order to succeed academically girls need highly developed literacy skills. Unfortunately, Wisconsin is the second lowest in the nation for reading achievement among African American students, and the achievement gap is the second largest in the country. Given these concerning statistics, it is apparent that more effective, culturally-sensitive instructional methods are needed in our schools. The majority of African American students in Milwaukee speak African American English (AAE). A consistent finding in the research literature is that children who speak AAE are at increased risk for reading and academic delays. Research also demonstrates that students who learn to code-switch between AAE and Academic Classroom English (ACE) exhibit increased literacy achievement. ToggleTalk is a new supplemental curriculum that teaches code-switching skills to young students who speak AAE with the ultimate goal of increasing literacy achievement. The proposed project will involve implementation of ToggleTalk at Cross Trainers Academy in Milwaukee. Students will be assessed and pre- and post- ToggleTalk implementation to investigate the effectiveness of the curriculum. The project will include a particular focus on how African American girls are impacted by this curriculum in terms of code-switching skills, literacy, and attitudes toward school and their future careers. The proposed research is aligned with the social justice mission of the Center for Gender and Sexualities Studies and Marquette University. Its aims include providing culturally-sensitive educational programming to girls of color for the purposes of increasing academic achievement and economic opportunities.