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Ruhr Economic Papers #983


Lisa Sofie Höckel, Pia Schilling

Starting off on the right foot – Language learning classes and the educational success of immigrant children

This study is the first empirical analysis to identify the causal effect of a separate preparatory language learning class on the academic success of newly immigrated primary school-aged children in comparison to their direct integration into regular classrooms. Employing unique administrative panel data from the German federal state Hamburg between 2013 and 2019, we use the quasi-random allocation of refugee children to neighborhoods and therewith schools to measure the effect of the two educational integration models on standardized test scores and the probability of attending an academic track in secondary school. Our results show that primary school-aged refugees who visit a preparatory class perform significantly worse in standardized test scores in fifth grade. The negative effect is particularly strong for Math and German. They further have a slightly lower probability to attend the academic track. Overall, our results indicate that integrating newly immigrated children directly into regular classrooms fosters their academic achievement more than schooling them first in preparatory classes with a focus on language learning.

ISBN: 978-3-96973-148-2

JEL-Klassifikation: I24, I21, J13, J15

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