*Names in bold indicate Presenter
In this project, we address this question using unique student-level administrative data from Florida, in which student records are matched with birth certificate data. Florida has been one of the major destinations for the recent wave of immigration. Currently, foreign born individuals constitute one-fifth of the population in Florida, which ranks fourth in this category among states. Further, the composition of these immigrants closely resembles the new wave of immigrants nationwide: 85 percent of the current immigrant population in Florida was born in Latin America or Asia. In 2009-10 school-year, ten percent of all Florida K-12 public school students were born outside the U.S, and another quarter of Florida’s students have foreign-born parents.
Specifically, we investigate two sets of questions. First, we compare first and second-generation immigrants with their native peers along a rich set of educational outcomes including test scores, high school dropout and graduation, grade retention, course-taking behavior as well as non-cognitive outcomes such as disciplinary incidents, suspensions, mobility and truancy. We then examine the extent to which these gaps are driven by factors that are typically out of the control of school system such as socioeconomic differences and age of entry, and malleable factors such as differences in school and/or teacher quality.
Using our unique longitudinal data on students linked to their teachers, we make a number of important contributions to the existing literature. First, because we can identify both first-generation immigrants and second-generation immigrants, and their countries of origin, we can investigate cross-generational differences in educational outcomes and their possible sources. Second, because we can follow multiple cohorts of individual students over time, we are able to examine the progress of immigrant students after they enter Florida public schools. Third, the exceptionally rich information on students along with the large sample size allow us to portray a fuller picture of the challenges faced by the immigrant youth, better explore the underlying issues, and look within subgroups of interest. Understanding these challenges will provide valuable and timely information for policy-makers and the wider education policy as immigration seems destined to remain at the top of the political agenda for years to come.