Confronting the challenge of immigrant and refugee student underachievement: Policies and practices from Canada, New Zealand and the European Union

Özge Bilgili, Louis Volante, Don A. Klinger & Melissa Siegel


Immigrant and refugee students consistently demonstrate a performance disadvantage when one considers their achievement against non-immigrant students. This paper examines the double- and triple-disadvantages that characterise immigrant and refugee student groups. To highlight the different levels of adversity they face, not only to socioeconomic background characteristics but also migration trajectory related factors are mentioned. Next, the paper synthesises trends from policies and practices associated with more favourable student outcomes. Concrete examples are discussed from the cases of Canada, New Zealand and the European Union. Finally, implications for policymakers, educational leaders, and schools are discussed. The paper concludes with a critical view on simply policy borrowing and calls for contextually and culturally responsive adaptation of promising policies and the implementation of new policies that effectively engage communities and enhance the skills of educators.

JEL Classification: Z18, Z19

Keywords: Education Policy, Student Achievement, Immigrant Students

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