Education & Family

Immigrants' education varies by country

Graduation day
Image caption Students from immigrant backgrounds do better in countries where there is a large immigrant population

How well immigrant children do educationally varies widely depending on the countries they go to, a new study suggests.

The research, from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), was based on reading test scores for 15-year-olds.

Children from similar backgrounds were found to have achieved different standards.

In some cases this was equivalent to a school year, researchers said.

Children whose families had travelled from Russia did better if they went to Israel, Finland or Germany and least well if they went to Greece or the Czech Republic, according to the OECD.

And pupils from the former Yugoslavia did better in the tests if they had gone to Denmark or Switzerland rather than Luxembourg or Austria.

The researchers looked at how close students were to the average reading ability for countries in the OECD - a body whose 34 members include many of the world's most developed nations.


They say between 2000 and 2009, across the OECD, the proportion of 15-year-olds with an immigrant background increased from 8% to 10%.

And they conclude that immigrant children tend to do better in school systems where there are relatively large immigrant groups and where the newcomers are from as broad a range of socio-economic backgrounds as the group they are joining.

The study says in Australia, Canada, Israel and the United States, as many as one in four or one in five students has an immigrant background.

And in those countries "all students with similar socio-economic status perform equally well, regardless of whether or not they are immigrants", the report says.

"The wide performance differences between students with similar socio-economic status and a common origin suggest that schools and education policy in the host countries influence these students' performance", it concludes.

The researchers added: "Some education systems appear to be able to facilitate the integration of immigrant students better than others."

Among families emigrating from the UK, reading levels among 15-year-olds were highest for those who had gone to New Zealand.

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