The Impact of ESL Funding Restrictions on Student Academic Achievement
ESL instruction is an important issue in Canada due to the large number of immigrants and has potentially impacts on both student academic progress and educational expenditures. In 1999, the province of British Columbia limited funding for ESL to five years per student but increased the annual ESL supplement. We explore the educational impact of these reforms using the results of standardized tests of numeracy, reading and writing proficiency for Grade 7 students. We compare differences in test scores, both before and after the policy change, among the following groups of Grade 7 students in the GVA: students with 5 or more years of ESL (those constrained by the new policy); students with one to four years of ESL; non-ESL students with a non-official home language; and non-ESL students with an official home language. No group of students experiences large changes in test scores due to the reform. The changes we do observe are usually increases for ESL students, and the few decreases are very small. Moreover, both before and after the reform, score differences between groups of students with different experiences of ESL, different neighbourhood socio-economic characteristics, and different home languages are modest in size.
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