Mathematics Performance of Immigrant Students Across Different Racial Groups: An Indirect Examination of the Influence of Culture and Schooling

Qiang Cheng, Jian Wang, Shiqi Hao, Qingmin Shi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Immigrant students are commonly assumed lower performers in US schools. Their inadequate English language skills and adaptation to the mainstream US school norms are often seen as obstacles to their successful school learning. However, whether and to what extent this assumption is sustainable for immigrant students' performances in mathematics is the question that has not been empirically explored. Proper answer to the question would help verify the popular assumption about the immigrant students and their learning in the mainstream US schools. Guided by the straight-line, segmented assimilation and cultural capital theories, this study examined this issue using US grades 4 and 8 datasets of Trend in International Mathematics and Science Study 2007 and 15-year-old dataset of Program for International Student Assessment 2009. It was found that there were substantial differences in the mathematics performances of students across different racial groups. Being immigrant students does not always mean they are lower performers than their mainstream peers. The immigrant students coming to the USA earlier did not always show worse mathematics performance over their immigrant peers who came to the USA later. These findings challenge the popular assumption that immigrant students' inadequate English language skills and adaptation to the mainstream US school norms are obstacles to their successful school learning and call for a deeper understanding about the academic performance of immigrant students in different content areas and at various stages of immigration across different racial groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)589-607
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of International Migration and Integration
Volume15
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 22 2014

Keywords

  • Immigrant students
  • Mathematics performance

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