Latino School Concentration and Academic Performance among Latino Children


  • Both authors made equal contributions to this article. The authors are willing to share all data and coding for replication purposes. This research was supported by a grant from the American Educational Research Association, which receives funds for its “AERA Grants Program” from the National Science Foundation and the National Center for Education Statistics of the Institute of Education Sciences (U.S. Department of Education) under NSF Grant #REC-0634035. Opinions reflect those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the granting agencies. This article benefited from the useful feedback given by Pat Goldsmith, Brian Powell, and audiences at colloquia held at the University of Arizona and the University of Pennsylvania.

Direct correspondence to Jennifer C. Lee, Department of Sociology, Indiana University, Ballantine Hall 744, 1020 E. Kirkwood Ave., Bloomington, IN 47405 〈〉.



To examine the effects of the concentration of Latino students in elementary schools on Latino first graders’ test scores, and to determine if the effects vary by children's nativity status.


We use generalized estimating equations (GEE) on a sample of Latino first graders from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Class of 1998 (ECLS-K).


For math and reading, Latino concentration in schools improves students’ first grade test scores for Latino children of immigrants, but it has no effect for Latino children of U.S.-born parents. For general knowledge test scores, Latino concentration has no effect for children of immigrants and has a deleterious impact on the scores of children of U.S.-born parents. We also show no effect of Latino concentration on the scores of white children of U.S.-born parents.


The results suggest that Latino concentration in elementary schools promotes educational outcomes for children from Latino immigrant families, but Latino families headed by U.S.-born parents do not benefit from coethnic concentration, which is in accordance with expectations derived from assimilation theories.