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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Immigrant students catch up quickly in Canada

Teacher Ann Woomert works with Aisha, 12, from Somalia, in class for English Learners at an Ontario school. Photo: Ian Willms/Boreal Collective for Education Week

Immigrant students are thriving in Canada, reports Kavitha Cardoza in Ed Week. Within three years of arriving, “children of new migrants do as well as native-born children.”

Thirty percent “of Canada’s schoolchildren are either immigrants themselves or have at least one parent born abroad,” compared to 23 percent of U.S. students, writes Cardoza. Canada has few illegal immigrants.

“Canada selects immigrants using a competitive point system that favors skilled, well-educated applicants” who are proficient in English or French, rather than the family reunification approach used in the U.S., writes Cardoza.

On a scale of 100, prospective immigrants can earn up to 25 points for education. . . . almost 75 percent of first-generation immigrants are born to parents who are at least as educated as the average parent of a non-immigrant student; in the U.S. it’s less than a third.

But even “wealthy immigrant children” do better in Canada than in U.S. schools, says Andreas Schleicher, director for education and skills at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Developments, or OECD.

Teaching practices in Canada don’t sound any different from the U.S. It may just be that Canada’s school system is more effective.

Haitian migrants flooded into Florida schools after a devastating earthquake in 2010. Although the newcomers were far behind their classmates in reading and math skills, the influx didn’t hurt student outcomes, concludes a Brookings study. It may have had a “very small positive” effect.

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