Supporting Young Students’ Special Needs in New Immigrant Destinations

How are elementary schools’ policies and practices for special services (e.g., special education, English acquisition, and gifted/talented education) shaped by communities’ immigration contexts?

Current evidence indicates that children of immigrants with special learning needs face significant challenges in having those needs addressed in U.S. elementary schools, leading to substantial educational inequalities along the dimensions of racial/ethnic, immigrant, disability, and language-minority status. Moreover, these challenges are likely to be exacerbated among the growing share of children in immigrant families who reside in new immigrant destinations where local populations and institutions have little experience serving recent immigrants. The proposed research includes quantitative and qualitative studies that will: 1) evaluate the extent to which ethno-racial, linguistic, and immigrant–native inequalities in special service provision are shaped by communities’ immigration contexts; 2) assess the relationship between local demographic contexts and the adoption of school district policies and practices aimed at mitigating these inequalities; and 3) identify the most salient opportunities and obstacles facing educators in their efforts to secure first and second generation children’s access to special education services.

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