Jacob Kirksey, a doctoral student at UC Santa Barbara’s Gevirtz School, has received the Emerging Scholars Award for Excellence in Research and Public Policy. The Emerging Scholars Award recognizes excellence in graduate student research with a direct impact on public policy. The recipients of the award receive an honorarium and will deliver a policy lecture at UC Center Sacramento. The invited policy lecture is a means for graduate students interested in meeting people from the policy community to develop contacts and possible job opportunities. Between 80-100 people attend each talk, and the audience is composed of legislators, staffers, heads of agencies, consultants, faculty, graduate students, and other researchers.
Kirksey is the second Gevirtz School student in a row to win the UC system-wide award open to graduate students in all fields of research; Jay Plasman won the 2017 award.
Kirksey’s research project, titled “Going Beyond What is Expected: ICE Enforcement and Chronic Absenteeism of Migrant and Non-Migrant Students in a California School District,” examines how enforcement activities via documented raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) impacted absenteeism for students in high school. Using administrative data and school and student fixed effects modeling, this study found that the number of incidents of immigration enforcement related to a sharp increase in absenteeism for all students. Each incident that resulted in an arrest or deportation conducted by ICE related to an increase in missing an average of 4.75 periods of instruction and a 2% increase in the likelihood of chronic absenteeism that year. These associations were driven primarily by increased unexcused absences during the weeks following heightened enforcement activity. Results were pronounced for migrant students, Hispanic students, students on free-reduced lunch, students who are designated English learners, and students with lower GPAs. Implications for policymakers are discussed.
Jacob Kirksey is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Education and a graduate research fellow with the National Science Foundation. Drawing from various perspectives and interdisciplinary frameworks in educational policy, Kirksey’s research examines unintended consequences in educational policy and focuses on frequently forgotten student populations (e.g. students with special needs). Trained as an economist, he primarily uses quasi-experimental methods with large, secondary datasets. As an instructor, Kirksey seeks to expand the way in which practitioners and policymakers use and interpret data in their decision-making.