Understanding the Academic Achievement of the First- and Second-Generation Immigrant Students: A Multi-level Analysis of PISA 2018 Data

Mehmet Karakus, Matthew Courtney, Hasan Aydin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
112 Downloads (Pure)


The present study explores the antecedents of first- and second-generation (1G and 2G) immigrant students’ academic performance using PISA 2018 data. The study draws on an international sample of 11,582 students from 534 schools in 20 countries and focuses on PISA schools that catered to a mix of 1G and 2G students. The study explores the role that student attributes, student-perceived peer and parental support, school provisions, and school equity-oriented policies have on immigrant student academic achievement. The analysis involved specifying three separate stepwise multi-level regression models for mathematics, science, and reading achievement. Findings suggested that, at the within-school level, perceived parental support and teacher enthusiasm and the adaption of instruction were associated with improved academic performance, while student experience of bullying was associated with more substantive negative academic outcomes. At the between-school level, the opportunity to participate in creative extracurricular activities was associated with improved academic performance. In contrast, a higher proportion of 1G students and the overall perceived level of bullying of immigrant students were associated with substantively negative academic outcomes between schools. Tests of moderation effects suggested that parental emotional support appeared to be of particular relevance to 1G students’ math and reading outcomes, while enhanced SES status appeared to be specifically relevant to improved science and reading outcomes for 1G students. Implications for policy and practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-278
Number of pages46
JournalEducational Assessment, Evaluation, & Accountability
Issue number2
Early online date22 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - May 2023

Bibliographical note

Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.


  • Immigrant students
  • mathematics,
  • science
  • reading
  • achievement
  • multi-level modelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Education


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