Dorothy Lepkowska reports from the annual American Educational Research Association conference in San Diego
A study of children in New York's Chinatown also suggested that school administrators failed to understand the hardships experienced by children in immigrant families.
Stacey Fell-Eisenkraft, of Columbia university, said that no less than 99 per cent of the children in Chinatown's 1,250-pupil middle school were entitled to free lunches.
Many of the more recent immigrants hardly ever saw their parents, who often worked 15 hours a day, six or seven days a week.
"After leaving behind relatives in China, many of these youths have also lost their parents to New York's sweatshops," she told the conference.