Making Sense of the Performance (Dis)advantage for Immigrant Students Across Canada


  • Louis Volante Brock University
  • Don Klinger
  • Ozge Bilgili
  • Melissa Siegel


 International achievement measures such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) have traditionally reported a significant gap between non-migrant and immigrant student groups—a result that is often referred to as the immigrant performance disadvantage. This article examines first- and second-generation immigrant student achievement results in greater detail across Canada. Overall, Canadian achievement results are atypical in relation to the international community in that immigrant student groups significantly outperform non-migrants in some provincial jurisdictions, and also significantly underperform in other provincial jurisdictions, in relation to reading, mathematics, and scientific literacy. This article examines these diverse results in relation to the available literature and offers a conceptual framework that explains the unique case of Canada. The framework highlights the importance of assessing immigrant student achievement by taking into account the level of individual characteristics, provincial policies, as well as sociocultural and demographic contexts across Canada.


Author Biography

Louis Volante, Brock University

Dr. Louis Volante is a Professor in the Faculty of Education at Brock University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. He is also an Affiliated Researcher at UNU-MERIT (United Nations University – Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology) and the Maastricht Graduate School of Governance, in the Netherlands. His research is focused on the global governance of education, comparative policy analysis, international achievement studies, migrant integration and student achievement, and education reform and innovation.




How to Cite

Volante, L., Klinger, D., Bilgili, O., & Siegel, M. (2017). Making Sense of the Performance (Dis)advantage for Immigrant Students Across Canada. Canadian Journal of Education/Revue Canadienne De l’éducation, 40(3), 329–361. Retrieved from




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