Portes, Alejandro, & Hao, Lingxin
The Schooling of Children of Immigrants: Contextual Effects on the Educational Attainment of the Second Generation
Examine the effect of the class & ethnic composition of the schools that second-generation youths attend in early adolescence on attainment & drop-out
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
The National Academy of Sciences of the USA
- Regardless of school context, individual self-esteem is associated with higher academic performance, whereas acculturation (indexed by longer periods of US residence) depresses it. The two ethnic effects, Mexican and Asian, remain highly significant, albeit in opposite directions and both vary sufficiently to justify further analysis.
- Self-esteem emerges as one of the strongest predictors of educational outcomes among second-generation youths, having a significant positive influence on grades and a negative one on dropping out, both resilient to school compositional differences.
- Growing up in an intact family turns out to be the most important family factor because it has strong effects on both grades and the probability of high school graduation, with the latter effect invariant across schools of different characteristics.
- The strong influence of family SES background on academic achievement is significantly reinforced in high-status schools, compounding the advantages of children from well-to-do families.
- The positive interaction between family and school SES is most visible in high-status schools where the advantages brought to school by privileged children truly pay off.
- Two key interactions discovered by this analysis point to the mutually reinforcing influence of high family SES and educational ambition for students whose school peers come from equally privileged backgrounds.
- Individual ethnic effects, positive for Asians and negative for Mexicans, are attenuated in the presence of a sizable percentage of coethnics.
- Diminished effects of national and class origins in the presence of a significant number of peers from the same ethnic background. The significant academic advantages associated with Asian and Vietnamese origin diminish in school contexts characterized by large proportion of other Asian students.
- Second generation students who attended higher-SES schools in early adolescence continued to receive higher grades later on; and the handicaps or advantages that they brought from their respective ethnic communities continued to be reduced if their early school contexts were marked by a heavy coethnic presence.
- Although for the average second-generation student attendance at a high-SES school reduces the chances of dropping out, for Mexican-origin children it raises it.
- Positive association of self-esteem with GPAs and high school graduation and the strong effects of growing up with both biological parents and of early ambition on both educational outcomes.
- School-class-composition SES interacts with family SES, compounding the already considerable advantages of students from more privileged backgrounds. Children of immigrants are no different in this respect from the rest of the population.
- Longer periods of US residence lower academic performance, and they do so regardless of school context. This result points to the influence of acculturation in bringing down the initial achievement drive among immigrant youths to the level predominant among native-parentage students.
- Children of Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese immigrants and children of Mexican immigrants display well known and opposite patterns of academic achievement.
- Once individual ethnic effects on average grades (positive for Asians and negative for Mexicans) are taken into account, the presence of a greater number of coethnic acts primarily as a leveling factor.
- Mexican origin students suffer not only from lower achievement levels, but also from a higher propensity to drop out of school. This propensity becomes greater in high-SES schools, contrary to what happens to other students. This suggests that dropping out represents a "solution" for where the handicaps associated with their own backgrounds become highly visible, subjecting them to greater discrimination by others.
- Adult immigrants, who possess material resources are themselves highly educated and have been well received in the host society, are in a position to effectively support the education of their offspring.
Journal Article Empirical Research
Academic Achievement, Asians, Context, Dropouts, Hispanics, Immigrants, Latinos, SES
Method of Analysis:
Eighth and Ninth graders
Unit of Analysis:
Classroom, School, Student
- Data from the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study (CILS), the most extensive data source on the immigrant second generation to date.
- Survey of 5,266 children of immigrants who were originally interviewed during school year 1992-1993 in the school system of Miami (Dade County) and Ft. Lauderdale (Broward County) in Florida and San Diego California.
- DV: GPA in senior high school and indicators of dropping out and inactivity reported by the respective school systems.
- IV: region, age, sex, length of US residence, family SES, educational expectations, self-esteem, national origin, etc.