According to a new study by John Hopkins University, immigrant children who emigrated to the U.S. prior to their teenage years score higher in school engagement and academic achievements than U.S-born kids. The study found that this was true for both Hispanic children and Asian children, if they were provided similar family and socioeconomic backgrounds. The immigrant children were also found to do better in school as they age, as reflected in college scores.
The study, published a recent issue of Child Development, studied more than 10,000 children between ages 13 and 17, and tracked their education outcomes until they were reached adulthood, sometime between the ages of 25 and 32. While there are detractors who are concerned that some 25 percent of U.S. school children are the children of immigrants, the study’s lead author, Dr. Lingxin Hao, feels the findings will help with predicting the future labor force. The study found that these immigrant children, which are referred to in the study as the “1.5 generation,” did better in school than those considered “second generation,” aka, born in the U.S. to foreign-born parents. They also did better than “third generation” children, native-born children born to native-born parents.
“The study found that 1.5 generation children scored better when it came to not only educational, but also behavioral outcomes and social outcomes,” says Houston immigration lawyer Annie Banjeree. The 1.5 generation children also did better in STEM, science, technology engineering and math.
Dr. Hao posits that the immigrant children are scoring so high in educational and social outcomes due to a strong support system, both within the family as part of the larger immigrant community, as well as the ability to “straddle” their native culture as well as the U.S. culture, navigating the educational system and labor market with ease. Both Hispanic children and Asian immigrant children did equally well when given equal access to quality education, smaller classroom size and stable family environments.
Dr. Hao concluded that he hopes the study can help to convince policy makers that foreign-born children are able to do well and prove resilience even in the face of lower socioeconomic and racial-minority backgrounds.
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