- Umut Özek
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The number of English learners enrolled in public schools has grown substantially in the United States over the past two decades. The growth is especially large in states in the South and Midwest that have not been traditional destinations for recent immigrants. In this study, we examine the effects of an influx of new English learners on students in receiving schools in Delaware, which is one of the so-called “new destination” states. We find significant positive spillover effects in the short term of new English learners on the test scores of the other students in the receiving schools. The positive effects are mainly concentrated among current and former English learners.
Public policies often target individuals but within-family externalities of such interventions are understudied. Using a regression discontinuity design, we document how a third grade retention policy affects both the target children and their younger siblings. The policy improves test scores of both children while the spillover is up to 30% of the target child effect size. The effects are particularly pronounced in families where one of the children is disabled, for boys, and in immigrant families. Candidate mechanisms include improved classroom inputs and parental school choice.
We propose a novel estimator for use in a fuzzy regression discontinuity setting. The estimator can be thought of as extrapolating the traditional fuzzy regression discontinuity estimate or as an observational study that adjusts for endogenous selection into treatment using information at the discontinuity. We show that it can be motivated as being the least complex model consistent with the data or as an estimator that is preferable to both a traditional regression discontinuity design and an observational study. We further show theoretically that no other estimators consistently generate better estimates than our proposed estimator. We then use this approach to examine the effects of early grade retention beyond the compliers around the retention cutoff. We show that the benefits of early grade retention policies are larger for students with lower baseline achievement and smaller for low-performing students who are exempt from retention. These findings imply that (1) the benefits of early grade retention policies are larger than have been estimated using traditional fuzzy regression discontinuity designs and (2) retaining additional students would have a limited effect on student outcomes.
High school graduation rates in the United States are at an all-time high, yet many of these graduates are deemed not ready for postsecondary coursework when they enter college. This study examines the short-, medium-, and long-term effects of remedial courses in middle school using a regression discontinuity design. While the short-term test score benefits of taking a remedial course in English language arts in middle school fade quickly, I find significant positive effects on the likelihood of taking college credit-bearing courses in high school, college enrollment, enrolling in more selective colleges, persistence in college, and degree attainment.
We study the effect of exposure to immigrants on the educational outcomes of US-born students, using a unique dataset combining population-level birth and school records from Florida. This research question is complicated by substantial school selection of US-born students, especially among White and comparatively affluent students, in response to the presence of immigrant students in the school. We propose a new identification strategy to partial out the unobserved non-random selection into schools, and find that the presence of immigrant students has a positive effect on the academic achievement of US-born students, especially for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Moreover, the presence of immigrants does not affect negatively the performance of affluent US-born students, who typically show a higher academic achievement compared to immigrant students. We provide suggestive evidence on potential channels.
This study examines the effects of internal migration driven by severe natural disasters on host communities, and the mechanisms behind these effects, using the large influx of migrants into Florida public schools after Hurricane Maria. I find adverse effects of the influx in the first year on existing student test scores, disciplinary problems, and student mobility among high-performing students in middle and high school that also persist in the second year. I also find evidence that compensatory resource allocation within schools is an important factor driving the adverse effects of large, unexpected migrant flows on incumbent students in the short-run.