Vast majority of America’s top science students are the children of immigrants

 By The White House from Washington, DC (P031115PS-0736) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By The White House from Washington, DC (P031115PS-0736) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Andrew Pillow

Trump’s travel ban has sparked debate about the contributions of immigrants in America. The dominance of foreign and second generation students in math and science has long been known to those in education circles, but a new study has confirmed the general consensus: Immigrant children perform well in school.

33 of 40 finalists for the Intel Science Talent Search are the children of immigrants.  The Intel Science Talent Search is the foremost science contest for high school students, often referred to as the junior “Nobel prize”.

The ratio of immigrant to non-immigrant children was not lost on the National Foundation for American Policy who had this to say about the finding:

“An impressive 83 percent (33 of 40) of the finalists of the 2016 Intel Science Talent Search, the leading science competition for U.S. high school students, were the children of immigrants. Moreover, 75 percent – 30 out of 40 – of the finalists had parents who worked in America on H-1B visas. That compares to 7 children who had both parents born in the United States. The science competition has been called the “Junior Nobel Prize.” These outstanding children of immigrants would never have been in America if their parents had not been allowed into the U.S.
Today, both the Trump administration and some members of Congress would like to impose new restrictions on legal immigration, including on high-skilled immigrants. Policymakers seeking to restrict high-skilled immigration should note that an important, underappreciated benefit of high-skilled foreign nationals is the contributions made by their children. The findings tells us that if we prevent high-skilled foreign nationals from coming to America, we will not only lose their contributions but the significant contributions that will be made by their children. It is likely there are many more children of H-1B visa holders who will make outstanding contributions beyond those who qualified for one of the coveted 40 finalist spots in the 2016 Intel Science Talent Search”

This contest reflects the data that we see across education. Immigrants are high academic achievers.

Read the full study here.


Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.