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African Immigrants, the “New Model Minority”: Examining the Reality in U.S. k-12 Schools


African immigrants in the U.S. have been headlined as America’s “new model minority.” The purpose of this paper is to examine if evidence exists to support the claim of African immigrant students’ (AIS) educational achievement and excellence (a core indicator of the “model minority” theory) in U.S. k-12 schools. Using a multiple methodological research approach and analysis, the study examines whether aggregated and disaggregated data exist to verify AIS’ superior academic achievement in U.S. k-12 schools. The study reveals a lack of data to substantiate the claim. Instead, the study reveals a paucity of research on AIS’ academic performance and achievement in k-12 schools, as well as academic underperformance and underachievement, and the challenges that exist. The notion of a “model minority” attributed to African immigrants is disingenuous and a disservice to AIS in U.S. k-12 schools. The paper discusses significant implications and recommendations for policy and practice that include overhauling the data collection and reporting system, data disaggregation for AIS, debunking the African immigrant “model minority” ascription, preparing culturally responsive and globally competent teachers, and increasing research on AIS in k-12 schools.

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Ukpokodu, O.N. African Immigrants, the “New Model Minority”: Examining the Reality in U.S. k-12 Schools. Urban Rev 50, 69–96 (2018).

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  • African immigrant students
  • Achievement
  • Model minority
  • k-12 schools
  • Data disaggregation
  • Homogenization