Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Promoting Academic Engagement among Immigrant Adolescents through School-Family-Community Collaboration

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Promoting Academic Engagement among Immigrant Adolescents through School-Family-Community Collaboration

Article excerpt

Schools are receiving students of immigrant origin in unprecedented numbers. Using all ecological framework, the authors reviewed the community, school, familial, and individual challenges that immigrant adolescent students encounter. They examined cognitive, relational, and behavioral dimensions of student engagement as well as culturally sensitive strategies for parental involvement. Varying academic trajectories were identified revealing that although some students performed at high or improving levels over time, others showed diminishing performance. The implications for school counselors' roles in school-family-community collaboration and intervention and practice are discussed.

The unprecedented number of immigrants residing in the United States today has radically shifted the composition of our country and, by extension, our classrooms. Recent census data reveal that 13% of the U.S. population is foreign born, representing a 20% increase since 2000 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000b, 2007). The immigrant youth population also has increased rapidly: Today, 1 out of 5 children in the United States is the child of an immigrant (U.S. Census Bureau, 2007), and by the year 2040, more than 1 out of 3 children are expected to be children of immigrants (Hernandez, Denton, & Macartney, 2007). Immigrant students undergo a myriad of unique migration-related stresses while adapting to a new schooling environment (Garcia-Coil & Magnuson, 1997; Suarez-Orozco & Suarez-Orozco, 2001), placing them at particular educational risk. The stakes of school failure arc greater today than ever before (21st Century Workforce Commission, 2000), and thus, it is paramount that we deepen our understanding of the processes that contribute to trajectories of academic success. As the landscape of our schools continues to change, the instrumental role of school counselors in facilitating healthy and successful transitions for the immigrant population has become ever more pronounced.

THE IMMIGRANT ADOLESCENT IN TODAY'S SECONDARY SCHOOLS

Immigrant students are a highly diverse population characterized by substantially different risk and protective factors (before, during, and after the migration process), yielding enormously varied challenges and experiences. While most of the immigrants that our schools serve are of Latin American, Asian, or Caribbean descent, students hail from hundreds of different countries and dozens of different linguistic backgrounds (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000a, 2000c). Children of immigrants may be newly arrived from their home countries or born in the United States (second-generation immigrants), or anywhere in between. Some are the children of highly educated professionals; other students' parents may have no formal education and limited marketable skills. Some students will have received a continuous, world-class education in their home countries, while others may have received spotty or prematurely terminated schooling in bleak educational contexts. And while the majority of immigrant students have documented ("legal") status in the United States, others will remain in an arduous documentation limbo for years to come with educational implications at the postsecondary level (Gonzales, 2009). Thus, even when immigrants are of the same country of origin, a variety of factors is likely to contribute toward differential pathways of adaptation.

Families are compelled to migrate for an assortment of reasons as well. While many are motivated by the promise of better jobs and increased economic opportunity, others may emigrate to escape war or political strife. The sending contexts (e.g., poverty, exposure to war, persecution) of immigrant students are accordingly varied, as are the receiving contexts: Some arrive in communities with expansive social networks that are experienced at easing their entry, while others migrate to less supportive environments or move from one migrant setting to another. …

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