Educating Immigrants - Vanderbilt University

Factors associated with
immigrant student achievement
in OECD countries
Daniela Torre
March 11, 2013
 “Non-immigrant students
outperformed immigrant students
by more than 40 score points on
both the 2000 and 2009 PISA
assessments” (OECD, 2012).
 Immigrant students are more
likely to drop out of high school.
(Alba, Sloan & Sperling, 2011).
 Among
In no OECD
the Czech
 The achievement gap between immigrant and non-immigrant
and Israel show
no overall
over non-immigrant
differences between students by immigrant background (OECD, 2012)
Why is it important to teach
immigrants well?
 Growing
(Joppke, 2007)
 Human capital
(Joppke, 2007)
 Social Cohesion
a common national identity built via the development of common values,
shared symbols, shared ceremonies (Cheong Edwards, Goulbourne & Solomos, 2007)
“ability for a community to withstand exogenous shock without turning on
itself ” (Heyneman, 2003)
Schools contribute to social cohesion:
• by teaching norms of the society
• by bringing people form different
backgrounds in contact with each other
• by treating all students fairly
• by building a common ground defining
citizenship for diverse groups of people
(Heyneman, 2003).
Research Question
 What student, school, and country factors are
related to the academic achievement of
immigrant students?
Student Factors
 Language used in the home
PISA results show that students who do not speak the language of instruction
at home are on average one year behind native language speaking peers.
(Christensen, & Stanat, 2007).
About 50 points for first generation students, 35 points for second generation
Reading scores by percentage of students in school who do not speak test language
Student Factors
Reason for Immigration (OECD,2012)
Work Related
Forced migration
Refugees &Asylum-seekers
Family reunification
Student Factors
 Generational Status
Differences between 1st or 2nd generation
According to PISA results, second generation students tend to
perform no differently or better than first generation (OECD, 2012)
“disadvantage may be maintained across generations due to lack of
language proficiency, limited social networks, or physical distance
from the majority culture” (Szulkin & Jonsson, 2007).
U.S. example
 Age of entry
 Length of time in country associated with increased
achievement (Zinovyeva, Felgueroso, & Vázquez, 2008; Schneeweis, 2009 )
Student Factors
 Socio economic status
 USA, Canada, and Australia
 Race/ Ethnicity
“When it comes to immigration in the global era, race and ethnicity, along with
class and gender, continue to matter. They matter, first and foremost, because the
majority of immigrants are from the non-European, non English-speaking
‘developing world’” (Suarez-Orozco):
 Parent education
 Explains about 25% of the difference between the outcomes of
immigrant and non-immigrant students; however this varies by
country. (OECD, 2012)
School Factors
 Tracking
 Immigrant students overrepresented in lower
tracks (Alba, Sloan, & Sperling, 2011)
 Age that student is tracked makes a difference
 “The earlier that students are tracked, the greater
the influence of social background characteristics
on their educational trajectories” (Van de Werfhorst & Mijs
 Germany vs. France
School Factors
Concentration of immigrant or disadvantaged students
Students who attend more segregated schools have lower
achievement (Zinovyeva, Felgueroso & Vázquez, 2008)
“Immigrant children’s performance in PISA is more strongly (and
negatively) associated with the concentration of educational
disadvantage in schools than with the concentration of immigrants
per se or the concentration of students who speak a different
language at home than at school.”(OECD, 2012)
“Poor, low-skilled immigrants of color have few options other than to send their
children to schools located in drug-, prostitution-, and gang-infested
neighborhoods. All too many schools attended by poor immigrant children today
can only be characterized as sites overwhelmed by a “culture of violence.” Many
newly arrived immigrant youth find themselves deeply marginalized in toxic
schools that offer inferior education.” (Suarez-Orozco, 2001)
School Factors
 Language Support Program
 Immersion
 Immersion with support
 Immersion with preparatory phase
 Transitional bilingual
 Maintenance bilingual (Christensen & Stanat,, 2007).
 Teacher capacity
 Quality of curriculum
Country Factors
Alignment between country of origin and destination country
Language alignment with destination country
Familiarity with educational system
Social welfare programs
France and Sweden: students
begin schooling at age 3.
National health care
Childcare provision
Country Factors
 Immigration Policy
 Canada, Australia, and New Zealand see smaller
gaps between immigrant and non immigrant
students. These nations have strict immigration
polices that target highly skilled immigrants who
have adequate language proficiency. (Christensen &
Stanat, 2007).
 Income and housing requirements may have
unintended consequences.
 Context matters
 Build bridging social capital
 Change has to be systematic
“The biggest obstacle is quite simply that
governments and schools must commit to
systematic language support from
kindergarten through secondary school.
These programs must be a long‐term
investment and not a short‐term reform.”
(Christensen & Stanat, 2007)
 Provide support for immigrant students at all school
 Train teachers
 Provide specialized curricula based on language
development frameworks
 Provide intensive language support, followed by long
term language support.
 Type of language support not as important as strong
 Promote interaction between immigrant and non
immigrant students- ie, housing policies, school choice.
Next Steps
 Investigate how immigration patterns have changed
over the last 20 years and how those changes are
related to student achievement.
 Investigate how social welfare policies and
immigration policies are related to immigrant student
Daniela Torre
Vanderbilt University