Charter Schools and Changing Neighborhoods: Hispanics and English Learners in Chicago
Chicago’s Limited English Proficient (LEP) and Hispanic students will play a major role in determining the city’s economic future. Unfortunately, these two critical groups have remained among the lowest-performing in the Chicago Public Schools where current strategies for improvement have shown scant signs of reversing current trends. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that thousands of LEP and Hispanic students are attending overcrowded schools. Indeed, the problem of school overcrowding seems to fall most heavily on Hispanic communities in Chicago, as shown by United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) research. New, high-quality schooling options need to be created to meet the demands and needs of those families.
Public charter schools, meanwhile, have begun to demonstrate impressive improvements for both of these student populations—providing an innovative model for improving schooling conditions for LEP and Hispanic students in Chicago.
This study examines standardized test scores during the 2007-08 school year for charter schools where LEP and Hispanic student populations exceed district averages. Among its findings from schools with available data:
• LEP students at reviewed charter schools outperformed their Chicago Public Schools peers at the same grade level 83.8 percent of the time;
• Hispanic students did so 65.9 percent of the time;
• Charter schools, which are not subject to the same statewide bilingual education requirements as other public schools, utilized a range of approaches to teaching English. The charter schools with the best results teaching LEP students all utilized various Structured English Immersion approaches; and
• In particular, LEP and Hispanic students at charter school campuses operated by the UNO Network of Charter Schools and Chicago International Charter School demonstrated some of the city’s strongest standardized test results, routinely performing above district averages.
Find Archived Articles: