Azzolini, Davide; Schnell, Philipp; Palmer, John R.
ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Volume 643, Issue 1, 46-77
Publication year: 2012

The authors use 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) data to determine how immigrant children in Italy and Spain compare with native students in reading and mathematics skills. Drawing on the vast empirical literature in countries with traditionally high rates of immigration, the authors test the extent to which the most well-established patterns and hypotheses of immigrant/native educational achievement gaps also apply to these comparatively “new” immigration countries. The authors find that both first- and second-generation immigrant students underperform natives in both countries. Although socioeconomic background and language skills contribute to the explanation of achievement gaps, significant differences remain within the countries even after controlling for those variables. While modeling socioeconomic background reduces the observed gaps to a very similar extent in both countries, language spoken at home is more strongly associated with achievement gaps in Italy. School-type differentiation, such as tracking in Italy and school ownership in Spain, do not reduce immigrant/native gaps, although in Italy tracking is strongly associated with immigrant students’ test scores.