We evaluate the effects of a dialogue based school support program targeted at Swedish municipalities which experienced a large influx of refugees during the 2015 refugee crisis. The support program was initiated by the Swedish government and administered by the Swedish National Education Agency (SNEA) in response to the crisis and the urgent need to support the accommodation of refugee children in schools. The program consisted of an initial 6-month stage during which a local team, in dialogue with consultants from the National Education Agency, identified local needs and agreed on a suitable package of support measures. During the second stage, with a duration of 18 months, the customized support package was implemented with financial and managerial support of the SNEA. Support packages typically involved teacher training in knowledge and language enhancing teaching strategies to support language development and learning of migrant students (Scaffolding language, Språk- och kunskapsutvecklande arbetssätt, SKUA), improved availability of tutoring in student mother tongue, managerial and administrative support in organizing refugee student reception and integration, including appointment of a local refugee reception coordinator and training of other personnel groups involved in the schools receiving refugee children. The support program was rolled out in seven waves during 2016-2019. Municipalities were first ranked according to need of support. In each wave the five most needy municipalities were guaranteed participation before randomization took place among subsequent pairs, i.e. 6-7, 8-9... each round, 5-12 pairs per round resulting in a total of N=63 in the treatment arm. Control municipalities, reentered the randomization procedure after 12 months. The support program thus affected some 112000 students, 10000 teachers, and 770 schools at the compulsory school level, excluding the guarantee municipalities.
The primary outcomes of the study are incumbent and asylum seeking students' test scores, compulsory school grades and qualification for upper secondary school. Other important outcomes are student and teacher mobility, school segregation, school resources, and effects on school markets, i.e. voucher school entry.
We will test a number of hypotheses:
1) Receiving targeted support improved schools ability to accommodate refugee students
2) Schooling outcomes of incumbent students were less negatively affected by refugee influx - or even positively affected - by municipal participation in the targeted support program
3) The effects of program participation are possibly larger for incumbent students with foreign background i) because of elements of the program also improves educational quality for this group ii) because they are more vulnerable to resource constraints.
4) It is possible that initial, short run effects effects are negative if program participation initially crowds out teaching capacity
5) Positive program effects may be mediated by enhanced reception and teaching capacity, increased school resources, more adequate special aid to children, reduced white flight and student mobility, less teacher turn over.