Educational progress of children of immigrants: The roles of class, ethnicity, and school context

Alejandro Portes, Dag MacLeod

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

284 Scopus citations


Recent immigration to the United States has spawned a rapidly growing second generation, most of whom are of school age. This article reports the findings of a study of 5,266 second-generation high school students in Florida and California, who were children of Cuban and Vietnamese immigrants (representative of relatively advantaged groups) and of Haitian and Mexican immigrants (representative of relatively disadvantaged groups). The study found that parents' socioeconomic status (SES), length of U.S. residence, and hours spent on homework significantly affected the students' academic performance, but did not eliminate the effects of ethnic community. Attendance at higher-SES schools increased the average academic performance and the positive effect of parents' SES, whereas attendance at inner-city schools flattened the negative effect of ethnic disadvantage. However, school context had no appreciable effect on children from advantaged ethnic backgrounds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-275
Number of pages21
JournalSociology of Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science


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