Illinois school districts report a shortage of bilingual education teachers with about 100 vacancies as of October.
To fill the vacancy, the Illinois Board of Education announced a $ 4 million grant to cover tuition costs for teachers wishing to obtain an English language teaching license.
It can make all the difference for the youngest students. A study from the University of Chicago School of Research Consortium shows that receiving bilingual support benefits English learners in the long run.
Marissa de la Torre, a senior researcher and director of the School Research Consortium at the University of Chicago, said it is a high priority for young children to develop English language skills and while developing their skills in their mother tongue.
“Research shows that it takes five to seven years to actually master the academic language needed to succeed in schools,” de la Torre said. “And in CPS, we classify about 21% of students as English language learners, which is about 70,000 students, which is a really big number and their number will increase over time.”
Rebecca Wonderlak-Navarro, director of education policy and research at the Latin American Policy Forum, said the need for sustainable support for bilingual education in Illinois is immense.
“Many Latin students, about two-thirds, start their education to serve and support English language development. Thus, the majority of English language learners in the CPS system and in the state as a whole actually focus on preschool and then primary school. “About 74% of our English learners across the state speak Latin, which is slightly higher within CPS… We have the fourth highest concentration of English in any state in the country. And so I think I think it’s really an exciting group of students, and the work we’ve done with the consortium and their research shows that over time, these students are doing well when it comes to getting the right services and support. “
“Illinois is one of the few states not only in the country that requires English language services at the age of three. Thus, we are the only state that regularly serves these children,” Wonderlak-Navarro continued. “And that’s why we talk a lot about the importance of early childhood. We talk a lot about the growth of English language learners. But knowing that Illinois is really a leader and offering these services in conjunction with this research shows that work these services are really important. “
De la Torre said research has shown that children who receive early education support benefit academically over the years.
“Participating in pre-K programs at CPS, especially if it’s a full-time classroom, actually puts students on the path to success. First of all, they actually learn English at a faster pace and their early literacy skills it is much better to participate in the full program before K, ”de la Torre said. “Even after four years of studying in classes before K or five, we see that more students go to school. They have higher exam scores and do better in their classes, have higher grades. So, participation in the run-up to K, especially a full day, there seems to be a really strong factor that will help students start on the path to success. ”
And he noted that the opposite is also true.
“In the long run, when we look at third-graders, if they haven’t received bilingual services since kindergarten, we see that they are less likely to come to school. They struggle with their classes and have fewer exams [scores] at school, too, ”de la Torre said.