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 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.
We are grateful to the Laura and John Arnold Foundation for financial support. All errors and omissions are those of the authors, and do not reflect the opinions of the twelve anonymous Florida school districts who provided us with these data for this study, nor those of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
David Figlio & Umut Özek, 2020. "An extra year to learn English? Early grade retention and the human capital development of English learners," Journal of Public Economics, vol 186. citation courtesy of