Panel Paper: The Impact of Bilingual Education On Limited English Proficient Students and Their Peers

Saturday, November 10, 2012 : 10:35 AM
Salon E (Radisson Plaza Lord Baltimore Hotel)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Scott Imberman, Michigan State University, Aimee Chin, University of Houston and N. Meltem Daysal, Tilburg University

To estimate the causal effect of bilingual education on the academic achievement of limited English proficient (LEP) students and their peers, we exploit a policy rule in Texas requiring a school district to offer bilingual education when its enrollment of LEP students in a particular elementary grade level and language is twenty or higher. Using school panel data for 1998-99 to 2009-10, we find evidence of a significant jump up in the probability that a district offers bilingual education above this 20-student cutoff. Using this variation in exposure to bilingual education, we find that bilingual education has positive effects on the standardized test scores of non-LEP, non-Spanish home language students with cumulative impacts of around 0.2 standard deviations in math and reading by grade 5.  For Spanish home-language students we find smaller and statistically insignificant, but still positive effects. These results indicate that bilingual education may be helpful to both LEP and non-LEP students.