07 SES 12 A, Migrant Students' Educational Expectations
School choices are, without any doubt, a crucial and complex step that characterizes the path of any student. These moments of transition are very important for all the teenagers, because on these choices lay the foundations for future work and life perspectives; however, school choices are particularly crucial for foreign students, for whom these represent also a measure of their integration in a foreign country.
This study is focused on Italy, a country that in the European context has some remarkable peculiarities: (i) the presence of foreign pupils in the educational system has not a strong consolidated history; (ii) it is characterized by a big degree of ethnic heterogeneity and a lower concentration of national groups in local contexts (Chaloff, Queirolo Palmas, 2006); and (iii) Italy is also characterized by a widespread and growing presence of second generation foreigners (Santagati, 2016).
With over 5 million foreign citizens now resident and almost 10% of pupils in schools without Italian citizenship (Idos, Confronti, 2017), Italy can entrust education with the task of building the conditions for a true equality of opportunity among all citizens, of any social origin and ethnic origin. Italy is a country where interculturalism is widely recognized in terms of pedagogical theory and school legislation but, at the same time, the Italian approach is characterized by a weak and contradictory relationship between policy, practices and concrete opportunities for students with an immigrant background (Santagati, 2016). Young foreigners, in Italy, live in a subordinate situation compared to Italian peers concerning the school system. In terms of educational achievement, they obtain, on average, lower marks than native ones, particularly on the Italian subject (INVALSI, 2017). Furthermore, there is an high percentage of academic delay for foreigner students, due to the common practice of the insertion in lower classes than those corresponding to their age (mainly for linguistic reasons) and to their higher risk of negative outcome of the school year (rejection) (Favaro,2014). Also the the risk of the dropout is significantly higher for the foreign students than for of their Italian peers (Santagati, 2016; Checchi, 2010). This inequity is often reflected on school choices and future perspectives: foreign students opt mainly for the technical or vocational education, and not for the lyceum (Barban & White, 2011), that allow them a rapid entry into the labor market (Bertolini, Lalla & Pagliacci, 2015). This sort of “educational segregation” (Colombo & Santagati, 2010) is shaped by personal, structural and social factors and it can affect the future perspectives and expectations of the foreign students. Many of them, in fact, by one side, aim for a high-level job (like magistrate, mathematician, doctor, etc.) but, on the other side, are aware that their migration background can hinder a path of social mobility (Cologna et. al, 2009; Ricucci, 2012).
The aim of this work is to verify if the Italian intercultural model is facing various difficulties in ensuring equal opportunities for immigrant students and if foreign student are able to progress through the educational system on par with other Italian peers. Our purpose, more specifically, is to verify if foreign students have the same aspiration for the future than the Italian ones, investigating the role and the weight of some important background factors such as parents’ level of education, parents’ occupation, geographical area of living, learning abilities.
We make use of data coming from annual census survey of educational achievement carried out by INVALSI (Italian National Institute for the Evaluation of Educational System). All students of grade 10 in the academic year 2016/2017 are included in the analysis, with information concerning their migratory background, socio-economic status (SES), parents’ characteristics, marks in Italian and Mathematics (from INVALSI student Questionnaire) and score obtained at INVALSI test (from INVALSI Italian and Mathematics datasets) The key variable of this study relies on the question about future expectations of study, i.e. “What is the highest degree do you expect to obtain?” (Student Questionnaire). We looked at differences in the distribution of the answers given to this question, according to migratory background: Italians, first generation, second generation migrants and verified that second generation have much similar behaviors than natives, whereas first generation students have considerably lower expectations about their educational achievement than their native peers. We quantified the impact of migratory background on educational expectations by including this variable in a logistic model to predict a title higher than upper secondary degree. In our models we found a negative impact of migratory background on educational expectations: a first generation migrant has much a lower probability (-20%) to aim at a degree higher than secondary school compared to an Italian, while a second generation migrant has a weaker, still significant negative impact on expectations (-10%) compared to natives. However, when we introduce socio-economic status in the analysis the negative effect of migratory background seems no longer significant. After quantified the effects of migratory history on students’ expectations, we investigated which factors are more influential on the decision about future educational perspectives. Since these factors could reasonably act differently between migrants, natives and second generations we stratified the data according to migratory background of each student and run three different models. By this strategy, we are able to detect the relative importance of each factor in different contexts, i.e. whether it has a stronger or weaker impact according to migratory group (natives, first generation and second-generation migrants). Some individual characteristics, such as parental education, gender and learning abilities have a similar impact among the three groups; differently the geographical area of residence seems to have a remarkable effect on natives (with much higher propensity to University for students living in the Regions of Centre and South Italy), whereas it has no effect on migrants.
The existing literature about migrant students in Italy largely focuses on school attainment, with few studies examining educational attitude and school expectations (Azzolini, 2011). However, literature has also shown that school expectations and school attainment are strongly related. In Italy, migrant students present a strong disadvantage in both the aspects of education: attainment and expectations. Concerning attainment, in contrast with a global trend that sees the second generation children reaching better school attainment than native students, Italy is one of the few country were II generation migrants have a negative gap compared to Italians, according to OECD data (2015). This inequality persists in educational expectations, with immigrant students at higher level disproportionately concentrated in vocational schools (Minello and Barban, 2012). Furthermore, and more importantly, school expectations are a measure of social integration of migrants. A school that promotes inclusion should enable migrant children think about their future the same way Italians do. In this perspective, our study intends to provide more evidence about the magnitude of the gap in expectations between migrant and Italian students, and it helps in a more clear understanding of social, economic and cultural factors that promote or hinder the “equality in expectations”. Our preliminary results show that, controlling for economic and social disadvantage, migrants teenagers can look at their future as a concrete opportunity of social mobility.
Azzolini D. (2011), "A ‘new’ form of educational inequality? What we know and what we still do not know about the immigrant-native gap in Italian schools", Italian Journal of Sociology of Education, vol. 7, n. 1, p. 197-222. Barban N., White M. J. (2011). “Immigrants’ children’s transition to secondary school in Italy”. International Migration Review, 45, 3, pp. 702-726. Bertolini P., Lalla M, Pagliacci F. (2015), “School enrollment of first- and second-generation immigrant students in Italy: a geographical analysis”, Papers in Regional Science, 94, pp. 141-159. Chaloff J., Queirolo Palmas L. (eds.) (2006), Scuole e migrazioni in Europa. Dibattiti e prospettive, Roma: Carocci. Checchi D. (2010), “Percorsi scolastici e origini sociali nella scuola italiana”, Politica Economica, XXVI, 3, dicembre, pp. 359-387. Cologna D, Granata E., Granata A., Novak C., Turba I. (2009), La città avrà i miei occhi. Spazi di crescita delle seconde generazioni a Torino, Santarcangelo di Romagna (Rn): Maggioli. Colombo M., Santagati M. (2010), “Interpreting social inclusion of young immigrants in Italy”, Italian Journal of Sociology of Education, 1, pp. 9-48. Favaro G. (2014), A scuola nessuno è straniero. Insegnare e apprendere nella scuola multiculturale, Firenze: Giunti. Idos, Confronti (2017), Dossier statistico immigrazione, Roma: Idos. INVALSI (2017), Rilevazione nazionale degli apprendimenti 2016-17. Rapporto risultati, Roma. Minello A., Barban N. (2012), “The Educational Expectations of Children of Immigrants in Italy”, The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, vol. 643,1, pp. 78-103. OECD (2015), Helping immigrant students to succeed at school – and beyond, OECD. Ricucci R. (2012), “Giovani stranieri, fra scuola e lavoro”, Informaires, XXIII, 1, maggio, pp. 82-95. Santagati M. (2016), “Interculturalism, education and society: Education policies for immigrant students in Italy”, Australian & New Zealand Journal of European Studies, 8, 2, pp. 6-20.
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