- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Immigrant 15-year-olds in the United States don’t do as well in math, reading or science as native-born children, and many have only basic skills, a study finds.

But immigrants aren’t as far behind in the United States as they are in some other major nations.

The findings are based on the Program for International Student Assessment, a test that measures the literacy of 15-year-olds and how well they apply skills to the real world. It is given to students in many industrialized countries and considered an international benchmark.

In the United States, first-generation immigrants, who were born outside the country just like their parents, are almost a year behind in math.

Second-generation immigrant kids — who were born in the United States, but whose parents were not — are about a half-year behind, a smaller deficit.

Similar but slightly larger performance gaps exist in reading and science, according to an analysis released yesterday of how immigrants performed on the most recent test in 2003.

A troubling number of immigrant children are at the bottom end of the achievement scale, which has implications for their work life and integration into society. By age 15, students have typically reached grade nine or 10 and are nearing the end of mandatory schooling.

For example, in math, at least three in 10 U.S. immigrant students have only the most basic skills. That means they often cannot apply math concepts to everyday situations.

On the positive side, immigrant students report high levels of interest in core subjects and in school generally.

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