Dual Language Education Programs: Current State Policies and Practices

Andrea Boyle, Diane August, Lisa Tabaku, Susan Cole, and Ashley Simpson-Baird

Recent research suggests that dual language education programs, a type of bilingual education program in which students are taught literacy and academic content in English and a partner language, provide more opportunities for English learners (ELs) to reach higher levels of academic achievement than other types of programs. Dual language education promises to give students access to key 21st century skills—namely bilingualism, biliteracy, and global awareness—and because of the expected benefits for ELs, an increasing number of schools are adopting this model.

Given the professed benefits and growing use of dual language education programs, it is important to understand the current status of dual language education in states and schools around the country to inform policymaking at the federal, state, and local levels.

Hear author Diane August discuss this report in a short introductory video.

This report is the result of an examination of research and reports on dual language programs, along with information collected from state education agency websites and state and federal databases. The authors also interviewed officials in six states: Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Utah.

The authors found that examining states’ dual language programming and policies is challenging because states vary considerably in how they name their programs. In addition, states, districts, and schools face a variety of challenges when developing, implementing, and sustaining dual language programs. The authors conclude with questions and recommendations for further research.