The actual short and long term cost implications of implementing dual language programs in DC needs to be better understood. In the meantime, with the help of DC budget analyst Mary Levy, we compared the operational budgets of all elementary dual language programs (PCS and DCPS) with DCPS’ elementary school average. We found that all dual language programs, except three, have smaller operational budgets than the DCPS average.

While some of these immersion programs might take advantage of additional money available for English Language Learners, examples like Tyler ES and Washington Yu Ying (where there are no substantial English Language Learners) show that these programs do not need to rely on ELL funding.

Here is the full presentation.

This is consistent with other states’ experiences. Delaware’s program budgets $1.9M per year over 10 years to implement immersion programs for 10,000 students. Utah budgets $2.4M per year to serve 25,000 students in dual language programs – less than $100 per student.

In their book Dual Language Education for a Transformed World Thomas and Collier state “When comparing Dual Language (DL) classrooms to […] mainstream English classrooms [… c]ost for DL are less than for ESL-only because DL is a mainstream (not a separate remedial) program that is taught through two (rather than one) languages. Some extra cost may be needed for second language materials, but no additional classroom teachers are needed […]. ”

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