Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Social Welfare

First Advisor

Ezekiel J. Dixon-Román


Over the last six decades, the United States (US) has received an influx of immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Today, an unprecedented number of Black and Latinx immigrant children and children from Black and Latinx immigrant families attend US K-12 schools. Changes in the racial and ethnic composition of the US population base have generated renewed scholarly interest in generational patterns of reading achievement among children of color. This is not surprising, as student scores on standardized tests of achievement in reading are used to make decisions about grade promotion, class placement, graduation, and college admission.

Although questions about achievement differences among successive generations of immigrant children of color are not new, empirical studies on this topic have been limited to test score comparisons. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, this study employs multiple indicator, multiple cause structural equation modeling, as a method of differential item functioning, to examine whether Black and Latinx children’s responses to items on a standardized reading assessment depend on the number of generations the child’s family has resided in the US.

Results showed that child generational status contributes to differential performance on reading assessment items. However, clear differences in item performance between generational status groups do not appear until early adolescence. By recognizing the social and political dynamics that work to produce (educational) difference within communities of color, this study not only presents a new lens through which to analyze and understand how familial history exerts its influence on the reading achievement of children of color, but it also offers new opportunities for refining the theoretical and empirical link between immigration and education.