- English learners enrolled in Texas charter schools showed slightly better progress in reading with very small losses in math compared to peers attending traditional public schools, according to a report released Tuesday by The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative nonprofit think tank.
- The research also found Texas charter school attendees who are ELs were more likely to graduate high school and enroll in college, compared to ELs in traditional public schools in the state. ELs enrolled in a charter school in 8th or 10th grade were 4 to 5 percentage points more likely to graduate high school than their traditional public school peers.
- A five-fold increase in ELs across the Lone Star State over the past decade calls for the need for further examination of long-term outcomes of charter school attendees, and of the unique challenges and opportunities in educating this population, the report said.
The research into ELs' academic outcomes included students who currently qualify for EL services and those who have ever been in that population. The report said this is the first large-scale study examining the relationship between “ever EL” students’ charter school enrollment and longer-term outcomes such as postsecondary enrollment and earnings.
In addition to analyzing data from the Texas Education Agency and other sources, the study's authors also conducted interviews with leaders of high-performing charter and traditional public schools with unusually high populations of ELs.
The report's authors recommend that the Texas Board of Education and other charter school authorizers — including those in other states — set a high standard for the approval of new charter schools and to close consistently low-performing schools.
They also recommend that lawmakers in Texas and in other states fund charter schools equitably and adhere to basic principles for charter school quality.
Narciso Garcia, superintendent of schools at Vanguard Academy Charter School in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, said in an email that the charter network’s educators are invested in supporting students' knowledge in dual languages. "At Vanguard Academy we believe that our students should preserve their native tongue because as we say in Spanish van a valer por dos, they will be worth twice as much."