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English Proficiency and Test Scores of Immigrant Children in the US

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  • Aparicio Fenoll, Ainhoa

    () (Collegio Carlo Alberto)

Abstract

Immigrant children in the US tend to perform worse in reading, mathematics, and science compared to native children. This paper explores how much of such differences in achievement can be accounted for by a lack of English proficiency. To identify the causal effect of English proficiency on cognitive test scores, I use the fact that language proficiency is closely linked to age at arrival, and that migrant children arrive at different ages from different countries of origin. In particular, I instrument English proficiency by comparing children from English-speaking countries to children from non-English-speaking countries who migrated to the US at different ages. Using data from the New Immigrant Survey, I find that speaking English very badly or badly can explain 27–33% of the achievement gap between native and immigrant children in standardized language-related tests. However, I find no significant language effects for applied maths problems or calculations.

Suggested Citation

  • Aparicio Fenoll, Ainhoa, 2017. "English Proficiency and Test Scores of Immigrant Children in the US," IZA Discussion Papers 10848, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10848
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David Kiss, 2013. "Are immigrants and girls graded worse? Results of a matching approach," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(5), pages 447-463, December.
    2. Asako Ohinata & Jan C. van Ours, 2013. "How Immigrant Children Affect the Academic Achievement of Native Dutch Children," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 0, pages 308-331, August.
    3. Eric A. Hanushek & Ludger Wössmann, 2006. "Does Educational Tracking Affect Performance and Inequality? Differences- in-Differences Evidence Across Countries," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(510), pages 63-76, March.
    4. S. Mahuteau & K. Mavromaras, 2014. "An analysis of the impact of socio-economic disadvantage and school quality on the probability of school dropout," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 22(4), pages 389-411, August.
    5. Herrero, Carmen & Mendez, Ildefonso & Villar, Antonio, 2014. "Analysis of group performance with categorical data when agents are heterogeneous: The evaluation of scholastic performance in the OECD through PISA," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 140-151.
    6. Lounkaew, Kiatanantha, 2013. "Explaining urban–rural differences in educational achievement in Thailand: Evidence from PISA literacy data," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 213-225.
    7. Ohinata, Asako & van Ours, Jan C., 2011. "How Immigrant Children Affect the Academic Achievement of Native Dutch Children," IZA Discussion Papers 6212, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Jensen, Peter & Rasmussen, Astrid Würtz, 2011. "The effect of immigrant concentration in schools on native and immigrant children's reading and math skills," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1503-1515.
    9. Micklewright, John & Schnepf, Sylke V. & Silva, Pedro N., 2012. "Peer effects and measurement error: The impact of sampling variation in school survey data (evidence from PISA)," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 1136-1142.
    10. Jan van Ours, 2008. "When do children read books?," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(4), pages 313-328.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    standardized tests; English proficiency; immigrant children; age at arrival; English-speaking countries;

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General

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