A five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education is coming to Grand View University in Des Moines to train English Language Learner instructors. Grand View will be working with six school districts across the state.
The $2.5 million grant will help prepare 485 classroom instructors to teach the growing number of ELL students in their districts. The larger school systems of Des Moines, Iowa City and Marshalltown are involved. The dean of graduate and adult programs at Grand View, Patricia Williams, says the smaller districts of Postville, West Liberty and Columbus Junction are also included.
“We really wanted to reach out to parts of Iowa that are not in the Des Moines metropolitan area, or not in another major urban setting, and offer them the ELL endorsement with scholarships from the grant we can deliver it to them on-line,” she says.
Williams says smaller districts with high percentages of ELL students don’t have the resources to prepare teachers. She says much of the attention will go to providing teachers who already see ELL students daily more understanding of what they need.
“Some of the better practices suggest content teachers, your regular classroom teachers who have some background in ELL and have that endorsement, or have some training, often are more effective with students who are learning English simultaneously while learning the regular curriculum,” she says.
The first group of teachers is expected to begin work in the spring.