Academic Trajectories for Latino and Black Immigrant Advantage in Middle School

Mayra Parada

Major Professor: Adam Winsler, PhD, Department of Psychology

Committee Members: Timothy Curby, Leah Adams

Online Location, #2086
April 15, 2020, 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM


Immigrant children are found in all regions of the U.S. and make-up 27% of the U.S. child population. Those students who arrive early in the U.S. face many obstacles but often have better outcomes compared to non-immigrants. Recent research shows that immigrant students often outperform their native U.S.-born peers academically, at least in the early years, and this is referred to as immigrant advantage. However, this pattern seems to decline during adolescence, especially during the transition to middle school. This dissertation longitudinally examined differences in academic outcomes during middle school (6th through 8th grade) between immigrant students and native-born students in addition to 1st vs. 2nd generation differences within immigrant families. Data come from the Miami School Readiness Project (MSRP; Winsler et al., 2008), a cohort-sequential, longitudinal project that involved children receiving subsidized childcare and/or attending public school pre-K at age four who later attended Miami-Dade County Public Schools (N = 4,341; nfirst gen . Outcome variables included standardized math and reading scores, end-of-year grades, tardiness, absenteeism, retention, and school suspension in grades 6 through 8. Research questions included: Does immigrant advantage remain during middle school? Is immigrant advantage moderated by race (Latino/Black)? Does the pattern of immigrant advantage change over time for certain immigrant generations compared to others?

 Results of multivariate hierarchical linear growth models showed that immigrant students earned higher GPAs and attended school better than non immigrants at all grades. For GPA, 1st-generation immigrants earned higher GPAs compared to 2nd-generation who were higher than 3rd-generation nonimmigrant children across all grades. Better attendance for immigrant students improved from grades 6-8. Generational comparisons for standardized math and reading tests reveal a different pattern. 2nd-generation immigrant students scored the highest in 6th grade, but declined over time the steepest. 1st- and 3rd -generation immigrants scored similarly below 2nd -generation students in 6th grade but non-immigrants declined over time faster than 1st generation students. By 8th grade, the 1st -generation students were performed better than the rest of the students on reading and math. Results of this dissertation suggest continued immigrant advantage throughout 8th grade and reinforce the idea of examining immigrant effects separately by generation and by outcome domain.