The central focus of this report is the children and youth of Somali descent who live and go to school in Minnesota. It is important to understand the background of why their families are here, recognize they are born here or elsewhere, and later examine the school experiences they have. In this report, we present experiences in educating Somali students: public and charter schools, English language development, the lack of Somali teachers, and family engagement.
Unfortunately, Somali student achievement in Minnesota, like other English Learners (EL), has been consistently lower than white, native English-speaking peers’ academic achievement.1
We therefore present recommendations to strengthen Somali student achievement: curriculum and instruction through literacy and native language development, diversifying the teacher workforce, and teachers and families working together. We drew extensively from research, interviews with different people from the diaspora community, and observations.
This report shows how Minnesota educators and systems work with Somali students and families to build a strong educational foundation, and shares promising practices and policy ideas to build on current successes and increase academic achievement for all students. This report should equip teachers, schools, and policymakers with what they ought to consider when creating and implementing equitable policies and practices. This report serves as an advocacy tool for the Somali community, Minnesota educators, policymakers, and you, the reader, to strengthen academic achievement for one of the fastest growing EL communities in Minnesota.