Early School Transitions of Immigrants' Children

Project: Research project

Project Details


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The recent growth of immigration in the United States represents the second largest flow of international migrants following the massive European migration of the early 20th Century. With an increasing proportion of children in the United States living in immigrant families, it is clear that we need to expand our understanding of how immigrant families relate to the key social institutions to which their children are exposed. The school is the first major formal organization the child encounters on his or her own and is a major conduit in the US stratification system. Thus, schools become an excellent venue to observe immigrant families make their way through the social institutions of their new home. What happens to the children in immigrant families? Some have suggested that these children may find themselves inserted into a disadvantaged position of the American racial/ethnic hierarchy and become discouraged at attempting to achieve through institutionally prescribed channels. Children of new immigrants from historically disadvantaged groups facing many possible pathways of adaptation in the United States may find some paths may blocked. These children will have to overcome structural obstacles in order to have the same academic success as their US born peers. They may even fall further behind. Others offer a more optimistic view suggesting immigrant parents seek to promote their children's social mobility through formal schooling in the United States. The challenge for researchers then becomes discovering just which groups and which characteristics of the family and the educational institutions are the most encouraging or discouraging to children from diverse backgrounds. The research proposed here focuses on the institutional and familial factors that enable some children of immigrants to more successfully navigate the most important social institution they will encounter in their childhoods. The study uses a nationally representative longitudinal survey to assess the skill acquisition and adaptation of young children from immigrant families (i.e. children who are either born outside of the United States or who were born in the United States to at least one foreign born parent) from their entrance into kindergarten through the end of first grade. The research investigates two broad sets of factors: familial and extra-familial resources and school contextual characteristics. The proposed research is unique because 'it will not only be able to provide information on the interaction of family background and school characteristics on a young, nationally representative sample but the data are also longitudinal allowing for a comparison of the academic trajectories of children from immigrant families across diverse country-of-origin groups.
Effective start/end date8/1/037/31/04


  • National Institute of Child Health and Human Development: $73,711.00
  • National Institute of Child Health and Human Development: $73,803.00


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