Children of Immigrants & English Learners

Holzman, B., Salazar, E. S., & Chukhray, I. (2020). "Inequalities in Postsecondary Attainment by English Learner Status: The Role of College-Level Course-Taking." Houston Education Research Consortium, Rice University.
This study examines the role of English learner (ELs) status in four-year college enrollment and bachelor’s degree completion among Houston Independent School District (HISD) high school graduates. We divide students into four groups: students who are never classified as EL (hereafter referred to as “Never EL” students), ELs who are reclassified during elementary school (grades kindergarten-five), ELs who are reclassified during middle school (grades six-eight), and ELs who are reclassified during high school (grades nine-11) or still EL as of the fall of 12th grade (hereafter referred to as “reclassified during high school” students). We find that gaps in four-year college outcomes by EL status are large, but are entirely explained by differences in sociodemographic, academic, and school characteristics. Of the academic characteristics we consider, differences in college-level course taking during the junior and senior years of high school explain 7 percent of the gap in four-year college enrollment between Never EL students and students reclassified in elementary school, 18 percent of gap between Never EL students and students reclassified in middle school, and 22 percent of the gap between Never EL students and students reclassified in high school. We also find that differences in college-level course-taking explain 14 percent of the gap in four-year college completion between Never EL students and students reclassified in middle school and 40 percent of the gap between Never EL students and students reclassified in high school.
Baumgartner, E., Holzman, B., & Sánchez, S. (2021). "An Alternative Approach to Measuring Student Immigrant Generation." Houston Education Research Consortium, Rice University.
Student immigrant generation can be estimated using an alternative method when data to calculate a traditional indicator are not available. An alternative method to determine immigrant generation may be helpful to school districts as they support and plan services for immigrant students and their families. Traditionally, child and parent birthplace are used to calculate an indicator of immigrant generation, with children classified as first generation if they and their parent(s) are born outside the United States, second generation if they are born in the United States and their parent(s) are foreign-born, and third (or higher) generation if both they and their parent(s) are born in the United States. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) relies on a definition provided by the federal government that describes an immigrant student as one who is not born in the United States and has not attended U.S. schools for more than three years, essentially creating an indicator that only identifies recently-arrived first generation students (2015). Because of this narrow definition, local education agencies may miss opportunities to provide important resources to second generation students who are also children of immigrants. The data needed to calculate immigrant generation using traditional approaches are often not available to school districts – specifically, parent birthplace. Using parent language as a proxy for parent birthplace provides a means of approximating student immigrant generation in the face of these data limitations. An indicator of generation that extends goes beyond federal and state definitions of “immigrant” may be helpful to districts when planning services and outreach to students and their families, particularly when considering culturally-appropriate strategies for communication.
Study in Progress: Evaluation of an Independent School District Newcomer Program
In response to the growth of newly-arrived immigrant students and the multiple, distinct hardships that impede their educational success (e.g., interrupted formal education, unfamiliarity with U.S. school system, trauma, family separation, poverty), school leaders have established newcomer programs. These programs are “separate, relatively self-contained educational interventions designed to meet the academic and transitional needs of newly-arrived immigrants” (U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, 2015). For more than a decade, a large urban school district has operated two schools that focus on newcomer education. There is a middle school that serves students in grades 4 through 8, as well as a high school with day and night programs for traditional and over-age immigrant students. The goal of this study is to examine the impact of the district’s newcomer schools on student behavioral, academic, postsecondary, and workforce outcomes and to help newcomer students succeed. This study is supported by a grant from the Brady Education Foundation.
Study in Progress: DREAMing of College: The Impact of Restrictive and Accommodating In-State Resident Tuition Policies for Undocumented Students on College Choice and Preparation
Since 2001, 27 states have enacted policies that limit or facilitate college access for unauthorized immigrants. Using survey data from the Current Population Survey, administrative data from California and Texas, and a heterogeneous treatment effect difference-in-difference research design, this study determines the causal effect of in-state resident tuition (ISRT) policies for undocumented students on college choice, specifically the level and intensity of enrollment, and preparation, defined as the percentage of high school graduates meeting state curriculum guidelines. The results show that statewide bans on college enrollment and ISRT negatively impact college choice while policies that offer state-supported financial aid in addition to the tuition discount have positive effects. There is no measurable relationship between tuition discount policies without financial aid and college choice, likely because unauthorized immigrant households are quite poor. Accommodating ISRT policies, with and without financial, increase the college preparation of youth in California and Texas, suggesting that they have earlier effects on intermediate outcomes in the postsecondary pathway. While both accommodating policies raise educational achievement in the short term, in the long term, only policies that provide robust financial support translate into attainment.