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Abstract

In our increasingly diverse schools, students bring diverse ways of speaking to the classroom. In turn, as features from students’ home language varieties transfer into their readings of texts, teachers’ assessment and intervention plans may be directly affected. If teachers conflate dialect influence with reading error in Standard English, they may inaccurately assess students’ reading performance and propose inappropriate instructional plans. In this article we provide insights into the ways African American Vernacular English (AAVE) may influence reading assessments and subsequent instructional decisions. Additionally, we describe an intervention – contrastive analysis and code-switching – designed to help students become metacognitively aware of the multiple language varieties at work in their worlds. Newly aware of the structures and uses of home and school English, students learn to strategically choose the language variety appropriate to the context. In this way, factoring dialect into reading assessment and intervention results in improved literacy performance.