Educational Needs and Barriers for Refugee Students in the United States: A Review of the Literature

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acculturation, human rights, refugees, segmented assimilation


Since 1975, the United States has resettled more than 2 million refugees, with approximately half arriving as children. Refugee children have traumatic experiences that can hinder their learning. The United Nations has specified in conventions, and researchers have concurred, that education is essential for refugee children’s psychosocial adjustment. However, government officials, public opinion, and researchers have often differed about what is best for refugees’ healthy acculturation. On the basis of a large-scale longitudinal study of the children of immigrants and refugees, Portes and Zhou (1993) suggested the theory of segmented assimilation, which accounts for diverse entry situations and receptions of immigrant and refugee populations. This review uses their theory to consider the needs and obstacles to education for refugees, and interventions for success.

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Review of Educational Research, v. 75, issue 3, p. 329-364

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