Are There Peer Effects Associated with Having English Language Learner (ELL) Classmates? Evidence from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study Kindergarten Cohort (ECLS-K)

Rosa M. Cho, Brown University

Over the past decade, several state and federal policies have directed schools to mainstream English Language Learner (ELL) students into English-only instruction classrooms. While there is mixed evidence on the effects of these immersion policies on the ELL students, research examining potential peer effects on their non-ELL classmates is non-existent. This paper begins to fill in this gap by using a nationally representative longitudinal sample of children in early elementary grades. Results indicate that having an ELL classmate during kindergarten and first grade is associated with lower test score gains in reading but not necessarily in math for non-ELL students whose primary language is English, controlling for unobserved fixed school characteristics as well as individual characteristics. The negative effects on reading test score gains are largest for low-income students and for those in classrooms with relatively few ELL students.

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Presented in Session 96: Policy and Child Outcomes