Using Achievement Tests to Measure Language Assimilation and Language Bias among the Children of Immigrants

Richard Akresh, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Ilana Redstone Akresh, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

We exploit the test language randomization (Spanish or English) in Woodcock Johnson achievement tests administered to children of adults interviewed in the New Immigrant Survey to estimate the causal impact of language on test scores. Randomization allows measurement of the degree and speed of language assimilation and the costs of taking tests in one's non-dominant language. Foreign-born children receive higher scores when tests are in Spanish; U.S.-born children show higher scores in English. However, foreign-born children arriving at an early age or having spent several years in the U.S. do not benefit from taking tests in Spanish.

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Presented in Session 100: Population Studies and Experimental Design