Beyond good grades: School composition and immigrant youth participation in extracurricular activities

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<ul><li><p>a r t i c l e i n f o</p><p>Article history:Received 13 February 2011Revised 10 August 2012Accepted 14 August 2012Available online 31 August 2012</p><p>Keywords:Immigrant incorporationRace/ethnicitySchool composition</p><p>Kasinitz et al., 2008; Portes and Rumbaut, 2001; Telles and Ortiz, 2008). In particular, there has been a growing interest in theadaptation experiences of immigrant and second-generation youth because they provide insights into the future of Americansociety. In this paper, we focus on immigrant youth incorporation into US schools, a key institution shaping future social andeconomic opportunities.</p><p>0049-089X/$ - see front matter 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.</p><p> Corresponding author. Address: Department of Sociology, University of California-Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, United States.E-mail address: dgokamoto@ucdavis.edu (D.G. Okamoto).</p><p>Social Science Research 42 (2013) 155168</p><p>Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect</p><p>Social Science Researchhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ssresearch.2012.08.0051. Introduction</p><p>Signicant growth in the size and diversity of the immigrant population in the US over the past two decades hasprompted scholars to examine the patterns, character, and timing of the process through which immigrants are becomingpart of the American mainstream. This focus on immigrant incorporation has produced studies on the socioeconomic trajec-tories and outcomes of new immigrants and their children (Alba and Nee, 2003; Bean and Stevens, 2003; Lee and Bean, 2010;Extracurricular activitiesa b s t r a c t</p><p>Past research has typically focused on educational attainment and achievement to under-stand the assimilation process for immigrant youth. However, academic achievement con-stitutes only part of the schooling experience. In this paper, we move beyond traditionalmeasures such as test scores and dropout, and examine patterns of school-sponsoredextracurricular activity participation. Analyzing data from Add Health and drawing uponthe frog-pond and segmented assimilation frameworks, we nd that immigrant minorityyouth are disadvantaged in regards to activity participation relative to the average studentin high- compared to low-SES schools. In high-SES schools, immigrant youth are less sim-ilar to their peers in terms of socioeconomic, race, and immigrant status, and as suggestedby the frog-pond hypothesis, social comparison and ranking processes contribute to lowerlevels of social integration of immigrant youth into the school setting. We also nd that aspercent minority rises in high-SES schools, participation increases as well. The oppositepattern appears in low-SES schools: when percent minority increases, activity participationamong immigrant minority students declines. These results are commensurate with boththeoretical frameworks, and suggest that different mechanisms are at work in high- andlow-SES schools. However, the effects of minority peers do not seem to hold for sports par-ticipation, and we also nd that percent immigrant operates differently from percentminority, depressing the probability of activity participation across both high- and low-SES schools. The main implication of our results is that racially diverse, higher-SES schoolsare the most favorable contexts for the social integration of immigrant minority youth aswell as third- and later-generation blacks and Hispanics.</p><p> 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.Beyond good grades: School composition and immigrant youthparticipation in extracurricular activities</p><p>Dina G. Okamoto , Daniel Herda, Cassie HartzogUniversity of California, Davis, United States</p><p>journal homepage: www.elsevier .com/locate /ssresearch</p></li><li><p>Past research has often focused on educational achievement and attainment to understand the extent to which immigrantyouth are keeping up with native-born white peers (see Hirschman, 2001; Kao and Tienda, 1995; Keller and Tillman, 2008;Fuligni, 1997; Glick and White, 2004; Perriera et al., 2006). According to traditional assimilation theory, when parity in edu-</p><p>We also contribute to the existing literature by examining the broader school context to understand the extent to which</p><p>156 D.G. Okamoto et al. / Social Science Research 42 (2013) 155168immigrant youth are incorporated into their schools. Clearly, broader contexts shape experiences, motivations, opportuni-ties, and ultimately, outcomes for youth (see Sampson et al., 1997; Brooks-Gunn et al., 1993). By considering how schoolcomposition one aspect of the school context1 shapes activity participation outcomes for immigrant and racial groups,we also address theoretical ideas in the literature. Specically, the frog-pond framework posits that through social comparisonand evaluation processes, students who are in the minority in their school in regards to status markers such as SES will be at adisadvantage and perform poorly. We extend these ideas to race and immigrant status, and expect that immigrant minorityyouth will experience a relatively low social status in majority-white, non-immigrant school contexts, which could negativelyaffect their self-evaluations and school engagement. Alternatively stated, immigrant minority youth should fare better inschools where they are more similar to their peers along the dimensions of race and immigrant status.</p><p>In contrast, the downward trajectory of segmented assimilation theory highlights the fact that immigrant youth oftenattend low-income schools with high proportions of racial minority peers (see Portes and Zhou, 1993; Zhou and Bankston,1998; Waters, 1999). In such contexts, immigrant youth are exposed to a high risk of dropout, delinquency, and violence,which can derail their academic progress and result in downwardmobility. The theory suggests that even if immigrant youthnd themselves in the majority, the increasing presence of racial minority peers in low-income contexts should have detri-mental effects on pro-social, achievement-oriented outcomes.</p><p>Using a nationally-representative data set which offers an oversample of several ethnic/immigrant groups, extensiveinformation on school-sponsored clubs and sports, and data on different age cohorts, we identify patterns of participationin extracurricular activities for immigrant and racial groups and then test theoretical ideas to nd out if immigrant youthfare better in schools where they are more similar to or different from the average student along the dimensions of socio-economic, race, and immigrant status. This analysis will help us to understand the extent to which immigrant youth areincorporated into their school settings and building valued social and cultural capital, which has broader implications forsocial mobility processes.</p><p>2. Background and literature review</p><p>2.1. Participation in school-sponsored activities</p><p>Over the last decade, scholars have focused increasingly on youth-centered organized activities because they facilitate ahost of positive social and developmental outcomes (Lareau, 2003; Eccles and Barber, 1999; Eccles and Templeton, 2002;Larson and Kleiber, 1993; Larson et al., 2004; Feldman and Matjasko, 2005; Mahoney, 2000; Covay and Carbonaro, 2010).Specically, research has documented that structured activities provide youth with opportunities to work cooperativelyas a team, build social and emotional skills, form valuable connections with adults, and interact with peers from differentsocial and ethnic backgroundsall of which contributes to the development of non-cognitive skills valued by schools andwork environments (Dworkin et al., 2003; Larson, 2000). For example, Hansen et al. (2003) discovered that adolescentswho participated in organized activities reported that they had more experiences with problem solving and put forth moreeffort in activities than in required academic classes. These youth also disclosed that organized activities such as a service-learning leadership program in school helped them to manage anger, anxiety, and stresskey developmental traits that will</p><p>1 School context refers to those facets of the schooling environment that shape student experiences and outcomes, including school structure, composition,and climate (Lee and Bryk, 1989; Pong, 1998; Rumberger, 1995). We focus on school composition here because of the theoretical frameworks we use tounderstand the incorporation of immigrant youth in US schools.cational achievement (or any other measure of educational or economic mobility) is achieved between the two groups, thissignies that immigrants have overcome disadvantages associated with disruptions to family stability due to the migrationprocess, a lack of English uency, and unfamiliarity with American culture (see Alba and Nee, 2003). The majority of thisresearch focuses on individual and background variables such as socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and parents expectationsto explain variations in educational outcomes.</p><p>The current study expands the existing literature in two ways. First, we move beyond the traditional measures of achieve-ment and attainment to understand immigrant youth incorporation. Measures of grades, test scores, and dropout are illus-trative of the assimilation process for immigrant youth, but they constitute only one aspect of the schooling experience.Students may be performing at high levels academically, but they may be socially isolated from their native-born peers.Examining the incorporation of immigrant youth into the school as a social rather than simply an academic institutionmay provide further insights into their current status in schools as well as their future integration as adults into mainstreamgroups and institutions. Thus, the current study takes an alternative approach by focusing on student involvement in school-based extracurricular activities, an integral yet understudied part of the US educational system. For immigrant youth, theseactivities provide a structure through which they build valued skills and competencies, learn about American social norms,practices, and culture, and interact with native peers in cooperative settings (Lareau, 2003; Olson, 2008).</p></li><li><p>help youth to navigate their current and future educational, work, and personal lives. Past research has also shown that ac-tive membership in school-sponsored clubs and sports during middle and high school encourages higher levels of schoolattachment and academic achievement (Darling, 2005; Mahoney and Cairns, 1997; McNeal, 1995; Broh, 2002; Marsh,1992; Dumais, 2009; Lareau, 2003). The advantages also extend to adulthood, as studies using longitudinal data have doc-umented that involvement in extracurricular activities during high school is associated with higher levels of income, educa-tion, earnings, and political engagement, all else equal (McFarland and Thomas, 2006; Lleras, 2008; Gardner et al., 2008;Kaufman and Gabler, 2004).2</p><p>tage. In support of this idea, recent studies have found that youth from underprivileged backgrounds perform at lower levelsin middle-class schools (Owens, 2010; Crosnoe, 2005, 2009; Portes and Hao, 2004).</p><p>D.G. Okamoto et al. / Social Science Research 42 (2013) 155168 157Studies on immigrant youth generally support the idea that school contexts matter (see Crosnoe, 2005; Perriera et al.,2006; Portes and MacLeod, 1996, 1999; Ryabov and Van Hook, 2007), and school composition may be especially importantfor immigrant youth who come from predominantly low-income, minority backgrounds. These youth, who already have lowsocial status due to their class and race, may also lack English uency and be unfamiliar with American norms and culture,further lowering their social status. In addition, past studies have suggested that racial minorities and other disadvantagedpopulations gain greater benets from positive school organization (Lee and Smith, 1997). If this is the case, immigrantyouth ought to be more sensitive to the effects of school composition. Drawing upon the frog-pond framework, we expectthat in high-SES schools where there are fewer racial minority and immigrant students, immigrant minority youth will be ata disadvantage in terms of participation in extracurricular activities compared to the average student. This participation dis-advantage should be less pronounced in low-SES schools, where immigrant minority students are more like their peers interms of class and race. Finally, these youth should also have improved outcomes in schools surrounded by peers whoare more similar in regards to race and immigrant status.4</p><p>2 It is possible that participation in school-based extracurricular activities could have negative consequences for immigrant youth. These youth may beexposed to social norms that are not consistent with their cultural values or face peer pressure to engage in delinquent activity. While the vast majority of pastresearch concludes that participation in these activities has positive benets for youth, it is still an empirical question whether immigrants and nativesexperience different returns to activity participation.</p><p>3 Native refers to third and later generations. We do not use native-born here because such a term could refer to second- or third-generation youth.4 This idea is also consistent with the selective acculturation pathway of segmented assimilation theory which posits that immigrant youth may perform</p><p>better in contexts when surrounded by peers who are similar in terms of immigrant status and provide social support.Less of the literature focuses on the factors encouraging youth participation in school-based extracurricular activities.Existing studies have emphasized the importance of socioeconomic status (SES), as children from low-income families areless likely to participate in lessons, organized activities, and clubs than children from afuent families (Lareau, 2003; Posnerand Vandell, 1999; Covay and Carbonaro, 2010; Dumais, 2006; McNeal, 1999). Studies have also found racial differences inparticipation in school-sponsored extracurricular activities (see Ingels and Dalton, 2008). For example, Dumais (2006) dis-covered that black and Hispanic children participated in extracurricular activities in kindergarten or rst grade at lower ratesthan white children. When controlling for socioeconomic background, Covay and Carbonaro (2010) found similar resultsregarding racial differences in participation in organized activities among a nationally-representative sample of third-graders.</p><p>While ndings from past research are valuable, the question remains whether immigrant youth are taking advantage ofextracurricular activities at the same level as their native peers3 and the extent to which school composition effects vary byimmigrant status.</p><p>2.2. School composition, educational outcomes, and immigrant youth</p><p>School composition has proven useful for understanding educational achievement patterns for youth. Students who at-tend schools with high-SES levels are more likely to be exposed to achievement-oriented social climates, social networksthat can provide useful resources and informatio...</p></li></ul>

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