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Do Refugee Students Affect the Academic Achievement of their Peers? Evidence from a Large Urban School District
Much of the recent debate on refugee resettlement focuses on its perceived adverse effects on local communities. However, there is sparse credible evidence to either support or refute this perception. This paper contributes to an emerging literature on the externalities of refugee integration, providing evidence on how this population affects the behavior and performance of incumbent students. I leverage variation in the share of refugees within schools and across grades to estimate the causal effect of having refugee peers on the English Language Arts (ELA) and Math test scores of non-refugee students. I also estimate refugee peer effects on non-academic outcomes such as student absenteeism and disciplinary incidents. On average, estimates suggest that increasing the share of grade-level refugees by 1 percentage point is associated with a 0.01 standard deviation increase in Math test scores. While I find no effect on average ELA test scores, using nonlinear-in-means specifications I find evidence of negative spillovers in ELA performance among low-achieving students and positive spillovers among high-achieving students.
The Impact of English Learner Classification and ESL Delivery Method on Academic Achievement
English Language Learners (ELs) make up 10 percent of public school students and constitute the fastest growing student population in the United States. ELs are also among the lowest performing student subgroups. An important policy tool in EL education is the classification of students into language services and the type of delivery methods provided to students with low English proficiency. While there is some evidence on the impact of EL classification and reclassification on academic outcomes, results are mixed and the majority of studies only consider the impact of EL classification at high levels of proficiency. In this study, I estimate the impact of a temporary English program aimed at students with very low English proficiency. Access to the program is based on a minimum score in a standardized English proficiency exam. I leverage this feature of the program to employ a Regression Discontinuity approach in my analysis. I estimate the impact of program participation on ELA and math test scores, English proficiency, and time to English Learner reclassification.
Voluntary Training, Intrinsic Motivation, and Cognitive Competencies in Technology-Rich Environments (with A. Chong and T. Musaddiq)
We examine the relationship between voluntary training participation, intrinsic motivation, and adult cognitive competencies including literacy, numeracy, and problem solving in technology-rich environments. To do this we employ data from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), the first cross-country survey that collects objective and comparable cognitive test scores for a representative sample of adults in 32 countries. We find that, generally, training participation on a voluntary basis is associated with low adult competency across literacy and numeracy skills. However, participation in voluntary training motivated by intrinsic incentives is associated with high adult competency scores across all skill domains. Results imply that intrinsic motivation corresponds to higher test scores, compared to motivation that is driven by external labor market factors. Understanding this difference in incentives with relation to individual skill levels informs a more efficient use of resources spent in increasing participation in training programs; especially in contexts with diverse competency levels among the workforce.
Works in Progress
The Effect of Dual Language Immersion Programs on Student Outcomes: Evidence from Georgia Public Schools
Differences between Refugee and Immigrant Students' Peer Effects
A New Proxy to Identify Refugees from Large-Scale Datasets