Predictors of Immigrant Children's School Achievement: A Comparative Study

By Moon, Sung Seek; Kang, Suk-Young et al. | Journal of Research in Childhood Education, Spring 2009 | Go to article overview

Predictors of Immigrant Children's School Achievement: A Comparative Study


Moon, Sung Seek, Kang, Suk-Young, An, Soonok, Journal of Research in Childhood Education


Abstract. This paper examines the predictors and indicators of immigrant children's school achievement, using the two of the most predominant groups of American immigrants (103 Koreans and 100 Mexicans). Regression analyses were conducted to determine which independent variables (acculturation, parenting school involvement, parenting style, parent education, parent English, family income, length of stay in the United States) were the predictors of children's school achievement. For the total sample, an overall model of four predictors (acculturation, parenting style, parent education, and length of stay in the United States) on school achievement was significant. While acculturation, parenting style, and family income were significant predictors for the Korean sample, parent education and length of stay in the United States were significant predictors for the Mexican sample. Practice implications and suggestions for the intervention were discussed based on the study findings.

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The United States of America is a nation of immigrants whose future world position and success will largely be determined by the achievements of recently assimilated and educated immigrants. It is therefore critical to attempt to determine and develop predictive models that point to differences in learning outcomes among immigrant children. Two of the most populous arriving groups are Asian and Hispanic immigrants (Hao & Bonstead-Bruns, 1998; Kao, 2004). According to the 2002 U.S. Census Bureau, 12.5 million Asians and Pacific Islanders (4.4% of the population) and 37.4 million Hispanics (13.3% of the population) live in the United States. They each represent potentially large components of America's future capacity for maintaining a competitive workforce. There have been substantial attempts to identify the predictors and indicators associated with immigrant students' school achievements (Feinstein & Symons, 1999; Georgiou, 1999; Kao, 2004; Maughan, Collishaw, & Pickles, 1998; Miedel & Reynolds, 1999; Peng & Wright, 1994; Shin, 2004). Problematic achievement gaps, especially between Asian and Hispanic students, have consistently plagued immigrant students. Asian American students have been further identified as a model immigrant student group on school achievement tests (Peng & Wright, 1994), while Hispanic students have been identified as a less competent group (Oberman & Walsh, 2005; Shin, 2004).

Prior studies have indicated that regardless of their ethnicity, immigrant students have difficulty at school in general because of their language difficulties (Shin, 2004) and cultural differences (Padilla & Perez, 2003; Shin, 2004; Sue et al., 1995). However, several additional studies found that Asian students performed better on school achievement tests, in part due to their higher family socioeconomic status (SES) (Connell, Spencer, & Aber, 1994; Finn, 1998) compared to that of Hispanic students. Other factors, such as frequent parental involvement (Desimone, Payne, Fedoravicius, Henrich, & Finn-Stevenson, 2004) and home environment (Bradley & Corwyn, 2001; Crane, 2001; Finn, 1998; Peng & Wright, 1994), also have benefited Asian immigrant students.

Although recent studies have found some preliminary evidence that parental involvement (Flouri & Buchanan, 2004; McKay & Stone, 2000; Steinberg, 1996) and students' home environments (Crane, 2001; Finn, 1998) produce salutary effects on students' school achievements, further research is needed in the field of early childhood education. Previous studies have, for the most part, targeted middle childhood immigrant students or immigrant adolescents, while very few studies (Bradley, Corwyn, Pipes, & Carcia, 2001; Brody & Flor, 1998) have involved immigrants in early childhood. Students' early school experience is crucial for their future school success, but early childhood experience has been overlooked by prior research that focused on immigrant young children's school achievements. …

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