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ERIC Number: ED580355
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Jan
Pages: 47
Abstractor: As Provided
The Causal Effects of Cultural Relevance: Evidence from an Ethnic Studies Curriculum. CEPA Working Paper No. 16-01
Dee, Thomas; Penner, Emily
Stanford Center for Education Policy Analysis
An extensive theoretical and qualitative literature stresses the promise of instructional practices and content aligned with the cultural experiences of minority students. Ethnic studies courses provide a growing but controversial example of such "culturally relevant pedagogy." However, the empirical evidence on the effectiveness of these courses is limited. In this study, we estimate the causal effects of an ethnic studies curriculum piloted in several San Francisco high schools. We rely on a "fuzzy" regression discontinuity design based on the fact that several schools assigned students with eighth-grade GPAs below a threshold to take the course in ninth grade. Our results indicate that assignment to this course increased ninth-grade student attendance by 21 percentage points, GPA by 1.4 grade points, and credits earned by 23. These surprisingly large effects are consistent with the hypothesis that the course reduced dropout rates and suggest that culturally relevant teaching, when implemented in a supportive, high-fidelity context, can provide effective support to at-risk students.
Stanford Center for Education Policy Analysis. 520 Galvez Mall, CERAS Building, 5th Floor, Stanford, CA 94305. Tel: 650-736-1258; Fax: 650-723-9931; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Secondary Education; High Schools; Grade 9; Junior High Schools; Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Institute of Education Sciences (ED); Stanford University, Graduate School of Education (GSE)
Authoring Institution: Stanford Center for Education Policy Analysis (CEPA)
Identifiers - Location: California (San Francisco)
Grant or Contract Numbers: R305B130017
What Works Clearinghouse Reviewed: Meets Evidence Standards with Reservations