UMass College of Education Assistant Professor Sade Bonilla, along with Stanford University Professor Thomas Dee and University of California, Irvine Assistant Professor Emily Penner, will be hosting a research seminar titled Engagement and Attainment: The Longer-Term Causal Effects of Ethnic Studies. Read the abstract below.
The growing adoption and design features of ethnic studies courses in U.S. school districts, particularly in California, have become politically contentious topics. The designers of this curriculum hoped the course would help students to work to combat racism and other forms of oppression, increase students’ commitment to social justice, and improve students’ pride in their own identities and communities. A recent empirical study (Dee and Penner, 2017) presented quasi-experimental evidence that a 9th-grade ethnic studies course targeted to lower-achieving students in the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) significantly improved several near-term predictors of on-track progression through high school (i.e., attendance, GPA, and credits earned). In this pre-registered, regression-discontinuity (RD) study, we present new evidence on the longer-run effects of taking an ethnic-studies course using the student-level sample analyzed by Dee and Penner (2017). Our core confirmatory hypothesis focuses on high-school graduation. We find that assignment to this course significantly increased the probability of high-school graduation. Our exploratory analyses also indicate that this assignment increased measures of engagement throughout high school (e.g., attendance) as well as the probability of postsecondary matriculation.