Demography and Early Academic Skills of Students From Immigrant Families: The Kindergarten Class of 2011

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Abstract

Children from immigrant families are one of the fastest growing and most diverse groups in America’s schools. This study provides a demographic portrait of immigrant children who entered kindergarten in 2010 and describes patterns and predictors of early educational outcomes of students from immigrant families. A nationally representative sample of 13,530 students who participated in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study—Kindergarten Class of 2010–11 was analyzed. Descriptive statistics were used to estimate the sociodemographic characteristics of this population. Regression was used to examine the relations between nativity, child characteristics, and family characteristics to reading and mathematics skills in kindergarten. Approximately 27% of kindergartners in the class of 2011 came from immigrant families. These students were more racially, linguistically, and socioeconomically diverse than students from U.S.-born parents. Educational outcomes varied by parents’ region of origin. Children’s early academic skills were significantly related to parent’s region of origin, but these relations were attenuated when child health, language, family structure, and socioeconomic status were accounted for. These results indicate the importance of considering parent nativity when examining the outcomes and needs of students from immigrant families. Because of the diversity of characteristics and outcomes of children of immigrants, researchers should consider the implications of nativity for students’ experiences and needs.

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