A recent study in Norway has found that schools with larger populations of immigrant students do not have lower graduation rates for ethnically Norwegian students. And for immigrant children, higher populations of immigrant students generally means a slight improvement in graduation rates.
Apparently, in cities like Oslo, high school graduation rates have been on the decline, and nobody is entirely sure why. Some have suggested it’s because of the growing number of immigrant students, but the new study should hopefully put that idea to rest. Are Skeie Hermmansen, a doctoral student who coauthored the study with Gunn Elisabeth Birkelund, compared graduating classes within a given school to each other, instead of comparing graduating classes in different schools. The distinction is important, because any given school might have factors which impact it’s students that do not impact other students.
Budget, or an inability to recruit or retain quality teachers, for example, could lead to a drop in graduation rates. So could a number of other factors but not, apparently, the population of immigrant students, whether it increases or not. Of course, for the immigrant students, graduation rates are rising, likely because seeing more non-ethnic Norwegian students gives them a greater sense of their own ability to succeed.
Immigrant children anywhere can have trouble succeeding, but second generation immigrant children, who were born in the country they live in while their parents were not, seem to do best. The same goes for children whom immigrate at very young ages. In Norway that’s because they have access to benefits that first generation immigrants don’t have, which goes for other countries like the United Kingdom, the United States, or the Netherlands. Those countries in particular have performed similar studies and found that rising immigrant student populations don’t negatively affect graduation rates in their schools either.