English-Language Learners Report Roundup

Asian-Latino Study Eyes Role of School

By Mary Ann Zehr — November 18, 2008 1 min read

For children of Latino immigrants, a school’s environment can play a big role in helping them to catch up academically with non-Hispanic whites, according to a study by a researcher at Columbia University.

The study finds that children of Latino immigrants respond more to school-level factors than do immigrant children from many Asian backgrounds—with the exception of those of parents from Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Wen-Jui Han, an associate professor of social work at Columbia University, conducted the study, which appears in the November issue of Developmental Psychology.

She examines the impact of school-level factors such as school resources, the provision of English-as-a-second-language programs, delivery of services to parents, average student academic performance, and school climate. Ms. Han finds that services and programs for immigrant families, in particular, correlate with improved mathematics performance for children of immigrants. The study tracks kindergartners to 3rd graders.

The author notes that her research may support what other researchers have found: The positive ethnic ties of many Asian children outside school may account more for how well they do in school than do the characteristics of the schools they attend. But the reverse may be true for Latinos who are children of immigrants, the study says.

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A version of this article appeared in the November 19, 2008 edition of Education Week

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