An Extra Year to Learn English? Early Grade Retention and the Human Capital Development of English Learners

44 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2019

See all articles by David N. Figlio

David N. Figlio

Northwestern University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Umut Ozek

American Institutes for Research

Date Written: January 2019

Abstract

In this study, we use microdata from 12 Florida county-level school districts and a regression discontinuity design to examine the effects of early grade retention on the short-, medium-, and long-term outcomes of English learners. We find that retention in the third-grade substantially improves the English skills of these students, reducing the time to proficiency by half and decreasing the likelihood of taking a remedial English course in middle school by one-third. Grade retention also roughly doubles the likelihood of taking an advanced course in math and science in middle school, and more than triples the likelihood of taking college credit-bearing courses in high school for English learners. We also find that these benefits are larger for foreign born students, students with higher latent human capital in third grade as proxied by their math scores, students whose first language is Spanish, and students in lower-poverty elementary schools.

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Suggested Citation

Figlio, David N. and Ozek, Umut, An Extra Year to Learn English? Early Grade Retention and the Human Capital Development of English Learners (January 2019). NBER Working Paper No. w25472. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3319803

David N. Figlio (Contact Author)

Northwestern University ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Umut Ozek

American Institutes for Research

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