Educational Expectations among Immigrant Youth: Links to Segmented Assimilation and School Context

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2 Scopus citations


Although schools are important socialization venues for all children, they also serve as sites of acculturation for immigrant youth. According to segmented assimilation theory, first- and second-generation students experience divergent trajectories of incorporation, in part, because they are exposed to school contexts that support or stifle their attainment. I argue that such a process must have social-psychological underpinnings, which I examine by relating children’s educational expectations to their school environment during adolescence. Specifically, I use the National Education Longitudinal Study to assess differences in expectations by school context among immigrant and U.S.-origin youth between eighth and 12th grades. Results indicate that students in comparably disadvantaged school environments report lower expectations, though this relationship is driven by household resources and student characteristics. I also find that most students exhibit increases in their educational expectations, and that such changes are not systemically patterned by school context. This article sheds light on the goals of immigrant youth and the extent to which these plans transform from childhood to adolescence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)252-278
Number of pages27
JournalSocial Currents
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020


  • educational expectations
  • immigrant generation
  • oppositional culture
  • segmented assimilation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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