New research from the University of Chicago shows students who are still learning English outperform their native English-speaking peers.
The study is breaking down misperceptions on bilingual students.
More than 350,000 students are enrolled in Chicago Public Schools and 20% are known as English Learners (ELs).
U.S. & World
The University of Chicago study found 77% of English learners are proficient in English by 5th grade.
English Learners in 9th grade had a freshman on-track rate of over 90%.
Attendance was also higher compared to non-EL students.
“That’s something we’ve never seen before,” said Dr. Marisa De La Torre, a lead researcher with the UChicago Consortium on School Research.
“It’s seen as this negative, but as we see them develop and progress through the years, it’s more of an additive mentality,” said CPS bilingual teacher Marisa Rios.
Dr. Rebecca Vonderlack-Navarro with the Latino Policy Forum said they didn’t just take a snapshot of students. This study followed thousands of students from kindergarten through 8th grade and above.
“I think the research is becoming clearer and clearer that supporting a kids' home language while building English is the best way to go," Dr. Vonderlack-Navarro said. “Learning a language is good for you.”
Fifth-grader Ashley Suco had a message for her peers who are still learning English.
“I just want to send a little message to never give up just because you don’t know English,” she said. “You can keep studying how to read in English and how to talk.”
Click here to view the full study.