Context of the Evaluation:
The school district of Versailles is a densely populated area encompassing all the suburbs located to the West and South of Paris. Most schools in the sample are located in areas with high proportions of recent and second-generation immigrants, often characterized by poor socioeconomic indicators. While unemployment is high across France, minorities are more likely to encounter discrimination. Youth unemployment runs over 50 percent in the suburbs around Paris that are home to France’s more than 5 million first- and second-generation African and Arab immigrants.1
Details of the Intervention:
The study evaluates a program called “La Mallette des Parents” designed to provide parents of children with poor school performance information on the options their child has at the end of compulsory school (grade 9). The program consists of two collective meetings , during which members of the school staff (teachers and school officials) present parents with the different continuing education opportunities available to students. Collective meetings are followed by one to three individual meetings, depending on the child’s needs, during which parents meet with the school director and discuss their child’s particular case.
At the beginning of the academic year, school directors selected five to ten struggling students in each class, based on their school achievements at the end of the previous year. Within each school, half of the classes were randomly assigned to treatment, and the parents of the selected children in the treatment group received the program, and were invited to collective and individual meetings. Researchers are collecting data on the impact of the program on students’ academic achievements, behavior in school, and orientation decisions, as well as on parental behavior, such as how involved they are in their child’s decisions and activities.
Results and Policy Lessons:
Project ongoing; results forthcoming.
1 Bloomberg Business Week “Crisis in France: How Welfare State Economies Failed a Generation” November 2005