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Cynthia Feliciano, Ph.D.
UC Irvine/sociology and Chicano/Latino studies

Faculty Seed Grant Fellow, 2007

Title: Gender and Ethnic Disparities in Early School Engagement among Children of Immigrants

Why are female children of immigrants more successful in school than males? Why are boys from some ethnic groups particularly disadvantaged? This research explores these questions by analyzing school engagement—children’s behaviors and interest in elementary school—an important predictor of subsequent achievement. It is hypothesized that gender and ethnic differences in academic engagement can be explained by: (1) differences in family cultural resources, such as parental expectations, parental control and language fluency and (2) differential effects of school context and climate. Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, a nationally representative sample of children from kindergarten through fifth grade, the study examines these factors’ influence on children from different ethnic groups, including Mexicans, Filipinos, Indians, and Vietnamese. Understanding early ethnic and gender disparities in academic engagement can illuminate the causes of later disparities in educational attainment, and has important implications for targeting policies towards the most disadvantaged groups.

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