Academic Achievements of Children in Immigrant Families

Wen-Jui Han, Columbia University

This paper examines the associations between children’s immigrant generation status and academic achievements in the kindergarten and first-grade years for approximately 17,000 children from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey-Kindergarten Cohort (ECLS-K). The empirical results indicate that, compared to the third and later generations non-Hispanic white children, first- and/or second generation children from regions in Russia/Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa had significantly higher reading and math scores, while first- and/or second-generation children from Latin-America had significantly lower scores. The differences in academic achievements are largely explained by parental and family characteristics, although the neighborhood and school environments, and to a lesser extent, home environment, matter as well for some groups of first- and second-generation children (e.g., Mexico). There is also evidence that, despite lower overall scores, second-generation children from Mexico acquired math skills faster than did third and later generations non-Hispanic white children during the kindergarten and first-grade years.

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Presented in Session 109: Immigration and Diversity