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ERIC Number: ED540309
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Apr
Pages: 24
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Starting Early with English Language Learners: First Lessons from Illinois
Severns, Maggie
New America Foundation
In recent years, a boom in immigration and high birth rates among the foreign-born population has led to significant growth in the number of children in the United States who speak a language other than English at home. This demographic change presents a challenge to the public school system, where English proficiency is central to a child's success. The vast majority of these children are legal citizens, yet as a nation, we have yet to determine how to meet this challenge. State education leaders in Illinois have first-hand experience with these challenges as the immigrant population in the state has grown in recent decades, and has spread to suburban and rural areas where many schools aren't yet accustomed to serving students who are not proficient in English. Illinois is one of the first states to try to tackle this problem as early as possible--before children enroll in kindergarten. While most state programs for ELL students begin when a child is enrolled in kindergarten or first grade, Illinois is in the process of extending its ELL program into state-funded pre-K programs. This will affect a sizeable portion of children in the state-funded Preschool for All program. Recent data shows that 34.2 percent of Preschool for All graduates in Chicago and 13.1 percent of Preschool for All graduates outside Chicago receive bilingual services when they moved on to kindergarten. The change will, the state hopes, create more continuity between pre-K and the early grades of school when students are developing crucial language skills, and reduce remediation for students in later grades by building important language skills early on. This paper takes a deep look at how the state came to see a need for these policies and how it is implementing them on a large scale. It also highlights two parts of Illinois's approach that merit consideration by other states with large or growing ELL populations. First, by expanding into pre-K, the state has created opportunities to align ELL programs across the early school years, opening the possibilities for districts to adopt a PreK-3rd approach. A glossary is included. (Contains 57 notes.)
New America Foundation. 1899 L Street NW Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 202-986-2700; Fax: 202-986-3696; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education; Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Foundation for Child Development; W. Clement and Jessie V. Stone Foundation
Authoring Institution: New America Foundation
Identifiers - Location: Illinois; United States