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An Extra Year to Learn English? Early Grade Retention and the Human Capital Development of English Learners
In this study, we use microdata from 12 Florida county-level school districts to examine the effects of early grade retention on the short-, medium-, and long-term outcomes of English learners in a regression discontinuity design. We find that retention in the third grade coupled with instructional support 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 triples the likelihood of taking college credit-bearing courses in high school for English learners. We do not find any adverse effects of the policy on disciplinary problems or absences among English learners.
CALDER WP 211-0119-1 was originally released in January 2019. An updated version was released in March 2020.
Keywords: grade retention; English learners; time to proficiency; human capital
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