Sharing what we’re learning: How we can help immigrant students succeed

At City Connects, we always share what we’re learning. It’s a vital way to promote student success.

Last month, Eric Dearing participated in a webinar on immigrant children, sharing what we know about their outcomes. (He starts speaking at the 35:43-minute mark.) Dearing is a professor at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education and an independent researcher who has assessed City Connects’ impact.

We know that many first-generation immigrant children who are new to the country face challenges, Dearing explained during the webinar, which was hosted by the Foundation for Child Development. Poverty presents “multi-pronged risks for immigrant children at nearly every level of context in which their lives are embedded.. whether we’re talking about neighborhoods or the schools or the families or the homes in which they are living.” Many of these students can also struggle in school because they are also English Language Learners.

“In general, we know that their lives can be described as being characterized by a scarcity of stimulating and supportive resources.”

Poverty hits these students harder. Dearing explained that about 1 in 5 native-born children with native-born parents are poor, while nearly 1 in 3 first-generation immigrant children are poor.

As Dearing explains on a webinar slide, there is speculation that the social capital provided by a family’s connections to school and to their community can provide social capital that “may be of exceptional value” for their well-being and social integration.

Meeting these needs is important work for school districts and for the country because as the population of immigrant students grow, they become increasingly critical to the nation’s social and economic future.

In the webinar, Dearing also notes that conventional student support models tend to function in silos. Counselors and school nurses provide help, without the input of teachers. The focus is often on students who have the greatest needs. And the intervention addresses students’ challenges.

What we’ve learned however is that City Connects’ model of integrated student supports has a positive impact on immigrant students. We address challenges and build on strengths through our whole class reviews. In turn, students do better in school.


Source: Eric Dearing

A City Connects study of first-generation immigrant students in Boston found that children in City Connects schools scored higher on math and reading comprehension tests.

The news was even better for English Language Learners, Dearing explained. “By fifth grade, if they had been in the intervention, they basically closed both the math and reading gap with children who were not English language learners.”

In short, integrated student supports are boosting immigrant students’ academic success.

We’ll share more of what we’re learning in future blog posts.

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