Disentangling the Effects of Nativity Status, Race/Ethnicity, and Country of Origin to Better Predict Educational Outcomes for Young, Immigrant Children




De Feyter, Jessica Johnson

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Though much valuable research has been conducted on the academic achievement and development of school-age immigrant youth, we know much less about the early academic competencies of younger immigrant children. This study describes the school readiness of 2,194 low-income children receiving subsidies to attend childcare with emphasis on how nativity status (generation), race/ethnicity, and national origins might influence children’s preparedness for kindergarten. The Learning Accomplishments Profile – Diagnostic (LAP-D), was used to measure cognitive and language skills, while teacher-report on the Devereux Early Childhood Assessment (DECA) measured socio-emotional protective factors and behavior. A school readiness screener administered at the beginning of the kindergarten year (Early Screening Inventory; ESI-K) and end of year grades for kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade were also examined. Results demonstrate variation does exist in school readiness according to nativity, ethnicity, and national origins. First- and second-generation immigrants lagged behind non-immigrant children in cognitive and language skills but excelled by comparison in socio-emotional skills and behavior. First-generation immigrant children had slight advantages over the other two nativity groups in early academic grades. In many cases, first-generation immigrant children showed more advanced development than second-generation immigrant children, providing some evidence in the early years for the immigrant paradox. The present study raises awareness regarding strengths immigrant children bring with them from a very young age and provides a starting point from which these strengths can be built upon to encourage their success and later academic achievement.



Immigrant, Education, Nativity, School readiness, Culture, Ethnicity