• The Effect on Student Performance of ESL Programs, Performance Pay and Immigrant Status

      Oaxaca, Ronald L.; Sabetghadam, Shirin; Fishback, Price V.; Stegeman, Mark; Amir, Rabah; Schaller, Jessamyn; Oaxaca, Ronald L. (The University of Arizona., 2013)
      Optimal investment in human capital through effective K-12 schooling is critical for building a productive work force. This investment is particularly important for minority and low income students. My dissertation uses econometric techniques to analyze the effects of different educational programs on the academic achievement of elementary and middle school students in Arizona. The first essay evaluates the effect of Arizona's new English program, the 4-hour ELD block, on the achievement of students. In the 2008-2009 academic year, Arizona law required that English Language Learner (ELL) students to be separated from their native English-speaking peers and interact in the same classroom for 4-hour per day with other ELL students. In this study dynamic panel data methods and regression discontinuity design are employed to analyze the effect of the 4-hour ELD block program on the academic achievement of students. Using data from one school district during the school years 2006 to 2010, this study shows that this new program did not have a notable effect on the state-wide test scores of ELL students. The second essay assesses the long-run and short-run effects of Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) program in Arizona. The TIF program is a nationwide performance-based compensation plan that provides incentives to teachers based on the student performance. The TIF program started in Arizona in the 2007-2008 school year and targets high need schools. Using a panel data set from 2006-2007 to 2010-11 school year, the effect of the TIF program on the achievement of students is estimated using the difference-in-difference method. Comparing the short-run and long run effect of this program indicates that the long-run effect is greater than that of the short-run. Finally, by utilizing a rich set of panel data from 2006-2007 to 2010-2011 school years, the third essay studies the raw and value-added achievement gap between first and second-generation students with native students. This study shows that native students outperform both groups of immigrant students in reading and math tests. Within immigrant students, second-generation students outperform first-generation students in reading but not in math, while the achievement growth of the second-generation students has a slower pace.