The Decade of Immigrant Dispersion and Growth: A Cohort Analysis of Children of Immigrants‘ Educational Experiences 1990-2002

Stephanie Potochnick, University of Missouri, Columbia
Margarita A. Mooney, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The unprecedented flow and dispersion of international migrants to the U.S. during the 1990s presents new challenges for the American educational system. Previous research suggests that children of immigrants are faring better in US schools as evidenced by a decrease in the high school dropout rate. We examine whether the children of immigrants staying in US schools are actually performing better academically. Using NCES data from 1988 and 2002, we examine how reading and math test scores of children of immigrants changed during the 1990s. We found that test scores were lower in 2002 than in 1990. While declines in math scores were attributed to demographic changes, the decline in reading remained robust to changes in family, school, and neighborhood characteristics. School fixed effect models indicate that schools are struggling more to educate children of immigrants, but that the decline in achievement stems from broader social forces as well.

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Presented in Session 3: Education and Assimilation