Does Immigrant Advantage Remain Stable Throughout Elementary School?



Parada, Mayra

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There are many risk factors, including low-socioeconomic status, gender, and teacher/school perceptions, which impede in the academic achievement of immigrant students. Despite these risk factors, recent research shows that immigrant students often outperform their native U.S.-born peers academically. This thesis examined the differences in academic outcomes during third through fifth grade between immigrant students and native students. Additionally, academic outcomes among immigrant generation (first-generation vs. second-generation) are compared. Data will be examined from the Miami School Readiness Project (MSRP; Winsler et al., 2008), a cohort sequential, longitudinal project that recruited children receiving subsidized childcare and attending public school pre-K. Outcome variables include FCAT math and reading scores, school suspension, school retention, attendance, and end-of-year grades. The following research questions were answered: Will the immigrant advantage continue to manifest itself in academic outcomes (end-of-year grades, FCAT math and reading scores, attendance, suspension, and retention) for students over time (from third to fifth grade)? Does gender or race moderate the size and timing of immigrant advantage? Hierarchical Linear Models (HLM) showed immigrant advantage in terms of initial status at 3rd grade (immigrants higher in FCAT math and reading, end-of-year grades, and attendance), but these advantages became smaller by 4th grade and by 5th grade immigrant disadvantage was seen for FCAT math and reading, and end-of-year grades. There were no significant gender by immigrant status interactions. However, there were race by immigrant status interactions for FCAT math and reading, end-of-year grades, and attendance. Black and Latino immigrants initially scored higher in third grade, but decreased over time. However, Latino immigrant decreased at a faster rate compared to Black immigrants in fourth and fifth grade. It is critical for researchers to explore what is going on in 4th and 5th grade that make 1st generation immigrants take a turn for the worst and lose their immigrant advantage. Black immigrant advantage should be further explored and studied. These results suggest that immigrant advantage may look differently for different ethnic groups. Latino immigrants may need more resources and support compared to Black immigrant students. Future studies should focus on disentangling these issues to understand and improve the educational experience of all immigrant students.



Immigrant education, Immigrant advantage, Immigrant paradox, Immigrant students