A little bit about myself: I grew up strictly speaking Spanish at home up until pre-school where I started learning English. Barney and Friends as well as Lamb Chop's Play Along were my favorite shows to supplement my learning. When I was in Kindergarten, my parents asked my teacher, Ms. Kassel, if the bilingual class would be better for me since I was still learning English, but she told them that I was learning quickly and that I'd be fluent in no time. Thanks to her and maybe a placement test (I don't remember if a test was required back then), I was not placed in an English Learning program and continued on as any new Kindergartner in the public school system in California.
Fast-forward to two decades later where I was being interviewed by Laura Hill, Ph.D, for a Research Associate Position at PPIC regarding a project on outcomes of English Learners. I was super interested, so of course I took the job. First of all, how often do you get an opportunity to do research on topics which have a direct relation to you and your life? Second of all, I wanted to learn about policy work in relation to applied economics; and, last but not least, San Francisco is a pretty neat city.
So I joined in 2013 and we worked on this project through last May (2014). In that project I got to look at longitudinal student data on grades, demographics, parental information, and state test scores. We created cohorts and looked at how different criteria for reclassification and the timing of reclassification predicted on-time grade progression and high school graduation. For people who aren't familiar with what reclassification is, it's the move from English Learning programs to general education. Ultimately, that study found that the earlier a student is reclassified, the more success they have throughout middle school and high school. This wasn't a very surprising finding, but it was surprising to see that sometimes those English Learners fared better on state tests and/or had better grades than native English speakers. For more details on that work and if you want to check out some charts and graphs made by yours truly, you can find that study here.
This project has been the only project that has hit so close to home and it was really fascinating looking at the data. It was also a trip down memory lane as I recalled my progress throughout K-12 and those pesky test forms we filled out on the first page or so of California state tests for English/Reading/Math etc. (I remember always wondering who would end up looking at that information). For example, do you remember filling out your parents' highest level of education on those? I do. I totally lied on them. One year I said my parents both had Master's degree, on another I said they only had "some college" and eventually I was honest and said they didn't finish high school. I bring this up, because another interesting finding was that we found some inconsistencies in the data regarding this variable, and I remember telling my research team about that. Really, though, can you really trust a 1st-4th grader to know whether or not their parent graduated high school, completed some college, graduated college, or went to graduate school? Plus, what if you were me and a judgmental desk neighbor was looking over your shoulder? Of course your parents graduated college. In case you're curious, I think we ultimately used the parents' filled out forms to populate that variable.
Anyway, that's a little about me personally and professionally. Thank you, again, Ms. Kassel for your sound advice to my parents :)
My name is Belen, I like to play with data using Stata during work hours and in my free time. I like blogging about my Fitbit, Stata, and random musings.