August 20, 2015

Immigrant student performance gap narrows, reports OECD

The performance gap between immigrant and non-immigrant students is narrowing—but countries need to do more to realize the potential of students from immigrant backgrounds, according to a report from the OECD.

Data collated by the organization’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) show that, during the period 2003 to 2012, the performance gap in mathematics results at age 15 between students from immigrant and non-immigrant backgrounds across OECD member countries decreased from 47 to 10 score points.

Over the same period, the share of students from an immigrant background increased by around three percentage points to 11%. Of these, 5% were first-generation immigrants, with a further 6% second-generation.

The OECD notes that differences in socio-economic factors account for less than half of the performance gap between students from immigrant and non-backgrounds. It argues that: “countries need to do more than fine-tune their immigrant selection mechanisms; they need to strengthen the capacity of their education systems to unleash the potential of all immigrant students.” It suggests subsidies for all-day schools and language coaching as policies that could help achieve this.

IZA World of Author author Horst Entorf has written about migrants and educational achievement gaps. Noting that integration of migrant students is essential for economic growth, he writes that: “Policymakers should prioritize measures that avoid segregating migrants and that reduce impediments arising from parental socio-economic disadvantage. Schooling systems that do not segregate young students into ability-based learning tracks seem to meet this goal, but potential trade-offs between greater equality of opportunity and social efficiency should be considered.”

Read the OECD report here.

Related article:
Migrants and educational achievement gaps by Horst Entorf

Find more IZA World of Labor articles on education here