Effects of Dual-Language Immersion on Students’ Academic Performance

48 Pages Posted: 24 Nov 2015 Last revised: 15 Jan 2016

Jennifer L. Steele

American University

Robert Slater

American Councils for International Education

Gema Zamarro

University of Arkansas - Department of Education Reform; Center for Economic and Social Research (CESR)

Trey Miller

RAND Corporation

Jennifer Li

RAND Corporation

Susan Burkhauser

RAND Corporation

Michael Bacon

Portland Public Schools

Date Written: October 1, 2015

Abstract

Using data from seven cohorts of language immersion lottery applicants in a large, urban school district, we estimate the causal effects of immersion on students’ test scores in reading, mathematics, and science, and on English learners’ (EL) reclassification. We estimate positive intent-to-treat (ITT) effects on reading performance in fifth and eighth grades, ranging from 13 to 22 percent of a standard deviation, reflecting 7 to 9 months of learning. We find little benefit in terms of mathematics and science performance, but also no detriment. By sixth and seventh grade, lottery winners’ probabilities of remaining classified as EL are three to four percentage points lower than those of their counterparts. This effect is stronger for ELs whose native language matches the partner language.

Keywords: Language immersion; English language learners; Student achievement; Urban education; Language education

JEL Classification: I21, C90

Suggested Citation

Steele, Jennifer L. and Slater, Robert and Zamarro, Gema and Miller, Trey and Li, Jennifer and Burkhauser, Susan and Bacon, Michael, Effects of Dual-Language Immersion on Students’ Academic Performance (October 1, 2015). EDRE Working Paper No. 2015-09. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2693337 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2693337

Jennifer L. Steele

American University ( email )

4400 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20016
United States

Robert Slater

American Councils for International Education ( email )

1828 L Street N.W.
Suite 1200
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Gema Zamarro (Contact Author)

University of Arkansas - Department of Education Reform ( email )

201 Graduate Education Building
Fayetteville, AR 72701
United States

Center for Economic and Social Research (CESR) ( email )

635 Downey Way
Los Angeles, CA 90089-3332
United States

HOME PAGE: http://works.bepress.com/gema_zamarro/

Trey Miller

RAND Corporation ( email )

1776 Main Street
P.O. Box 2138
Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138
United States

Jennifer Li

RAND Corporation ( email )

1776 Main Street
P.O. Box 2138
Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138
United States

Susan Burkhauser

RAND Corporation ( email )

1776 Main Street
P.O. Box 2138
Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138
United States

Michael Bacon

Portland Public Schools ( email )

501 North Dixon Street
Portland, OR 97227-1807
United States

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