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Illinois’ Jump Start With ELLs Provides Lesson for Other States

By Lesli A. Maxwell — April 13, 2012 1 min read

If you haven’t seen it already, don’t miss reading this new analysis on how Illinois is faring so far in its efforts to provide robust bilingual education services to its large population of English-language learners in state-funded prekindergarten programs.

Written by Maggie Severns, a policy analyst with the Early Education Initiative at the New America Foundation, the paper describes Illinois’ approach and makes recommendations on how the state can improve its already leading-edge work with 4-year-old English-learners.

My colleague Julie Rasicot has a good summary of the paper over at the Early Years blog.

I’m in the midst of reporting a piece on Latino students and preschool and how, as a group, they are the least likely to participate in high-quality early childhood programs. Much of that has to do with lack of access to such programs, but another leading barrier is language. It makes sense that parents who don’t speak English would be very reluctant to place their young children in a program where they can’t communicate well with the providers.

So it seems Illinois is getting at two major problems with its approach: offering bilingual services (which would mean bilingual teachers) that would help reassure parents that they will be able to communicate with the providers who are caring for their children, and offering language services that will help prepare these young children to start kindergarten with more English skills.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.