The K-12, postsecondary, and labor outcomes of the Texas migrant student population
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The children of migrant workers are one of the most marginalized populations in the United States. Instability and poverty impact many aspects of most migrant students’ lives, especially education. The federal Migrant Education Program (MEP) provides educational support to migrant students. Federal funding is administered to state educational agencies to manage state Migrant Education Programs. The goal of these programs is to ensure that migrant students graduate high school and are prepared for higher education and the workforce. Texas has the second largest population of migrant students in the United States and spends about $50 million annually on the Texas Migrant Education Program (TMEP). There has been limited evaluation of outcomes following participation in the TMEP (or in the MEP in general) and no research regarding labor outcomes of former migrant students has been conducted. The purpose of this study is to estimate how different educational and post-schooling outcomes of Latino students eligible to participate in the TMEP differ from those of the non-migrant Latino student population, controlling for various factors. The educational outcomes studied include total and chronic absenteeism, SAT score, odds of enrollment in a STEM major, and degree level awarded from public universities, career and technical schools, and community colleges. The primary labor market outcomes investigated are wages and odds of participating in the agricultural industry. OLS regression, logistic regression, ordered logit, zero inflated Poisson regression, and panel data with fixed effects are used. Changes in migrant students’ eligibility for services allows for an estimation of the intent-to-treat effect of the TMEP. Results of the study suggest that a gap exists between outcomes for the Latino migrant and non-migrant population. Currently, the services the TMEP is able to provide with a small working budget do not bridge the human capital gap associated with systemic inequities faced by migrant students. Outcomes suggest that a revitalized Migrant Education Program with more sufficient resources to deliver more effective and consistent services across school districts may enable migrants to pursue the same opportunities as their non-migrant peers. Implications for theory, policy, and future research are discussed.