Transatlantic Symposium Report: Improving Instruction for Immigrant and Refugee Students in Secondary Schools

Date published



The growing enrollment of pupils with migrant backgrounds—including newcomers and the children of immigrants and refugees—has brought unique opportunities and challenges for school systems in Europe and the United States. These include how to create school environments that welcome and support the aspirations of students from diverse cultural backgrounds, fill gaps in students’ formal education, and help those without strong host-country language and literacy skills to acquire them. Providing the instruction and support that language-minority (LM) students need in order to access grade-level academic content is particularly complex in the secondary grades. Too often, students with a migrant background fall behind their nonmigrant peers, contributing to comparatively high numbers of immigrant students who leave school early.

To promote the sharing of best practices and analyses on how to address the varied needs of these youth, the Migration Policy Institute’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy brought together approximately 30 leading policymakers, teacher educators, and researchers from the United States and Europe in June 2015 for a symposium in Brussels titled “Improving Instruction and Support for Students with a Migrant Background and Language-Minority Pupils in the Secondary Grades: A Transatlantic Symposium on Improving Teacher and Administrator Capacities.” The symposium explored the imperative of improving educational outcomes for students from migrant and LM backgrounds, with a particular focus on the initial and ongoing training of teachers and school leaders as well as elements of school and policy design that promote effective instruction for migrant and LM students in the secondary grades.

This paper synthesizes the themes and central questions raised during the presentations and discussions that took place over the course of the symposium. Relevant presentations and background information available to participants in the symposium are linked throughout.

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Number of pages

14 pages

Focus area

Communauté de Migrants

Publisher / Organisation

Migration Policy Institute

JMDI publication