- Academic achievement of adolescent children is directly associated with their success in adulthood. Little is known, however, regarding how adolescents in immigrant families academically grow over time and what factors influence the trajectories. Drawing on the National Educational Longitudinal Survey 1988 (NELS: 88), this study aimed to: 1) identify the growth pattern of reading and math achievement of adolescent children from Mexican and East Asian immigrant families (n = 282 and n = 234, respectively), and 2) investigate to what extent ethnicity, various forms of parental capital, and social capital within the home influence the trajectories in the academic achievement of children from Mexican and East Asian immigrant families.
This study employed the growth curve modeling for analysis. As a result, first, reading and math achievement of adolescent students from Mexican and East Asian immigrant families improved between the eighth and twelfth grades. Controlling for child’s characteristics (i.e. gender, generational status, and limited English proficiency status at eighth grade), expected scores increased by 1.71 points for reading and 3.21 points for math. Second, ethnicity had a significant effect on academic trajectories of adolescent children from Mexican and East Asian immigrant families. Taking into account family capital, however, the effect size substantially decreased, and there was no significant ethnicity effect on the rate of change. Third, compared to the counterparts of parents with a lower level of parental capital, those whose parents had higher levels of capital did better at eighth grade and these students’ achievement accelerated over time. Controlling for other forms of capital, however, these significant effects substantially decreased or even disappeared. Social capital within the home also had a positive effect on academic achievement at eighth grade and the growth change over time. Controlling for parental capital, the positive effect of parent-child discussion on academic achievement at eighth grade remained whereas its effect on the growth rate disappeared. Implications and directions for future research are also discussed.