In a recent study, preschool enrollment rates among Latino children in Illinois were much lower compared to white and African-American students.
Researchers from the University of Carolina tracked 380 Illinois children born in 2001 for nearly a decade, according to the Chicago Tribune. This was part of a study of 10,000 students across the country, in which they monitored the child's social and cognitive development, as well as how often they read with their parents at home. The study found Latino children were about six months behind in their early literacy skills.
The report also found nearly 35 percent of Latino 4-year-olds attended preschool, compared to 66 percent of white children and 54 of African-American children enrolled, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Although research in the past has shown there are disparities between Latino students and their peers, this new study shows disparities begin at an earlier age. To close the gap, Illinois recently became the first state to require public schools to mandate bilingual education for 3 and 4-year-olds who don't speak English. Previously, schools were only required to help children in kindergarten through 12th grade.
Although advocates agree that the new legislation is a big step forward, they think there still is more to be done. "If we put all our school reform eggs in the K-to-12 basket, it's going to be too late," said Bruce Fuller, the professor behind the findings to the Chicago Tribune. Fuller is presenting the findings at DePaul University today during a conference on the Latino Children Project.
Researchers say this study may explain why drop out rates among Latino students are the highest around the country.