CA universities get federal professional development grants for EL training

Nearly $4 million in new grants from the U.S. Department of Education targets professional development in support of English language learners.

The money will go to 11 California universities to provide more training tied to basic concepts for helping students attain fluency in English, said Dr. Linda Ventriglia-Navarrette, professor of education at National University.

Beginning with the need for instructors to better screen and evaluate pupils early in their academic careers, instructors also need to apply better methods for monitoring progress. Reading intervention and vocabulary-building are also critical, she said, as is using peer learning time.

The new training also will emphasize new common core content standards. The materials were written to help teachers understand the implications of the standards for their grade levels and to prepare teachers to help English learners access new standards, which stress vocabulary development and informational literacy.

I don't think we can have one without the other," Ventriglia-Navarrette said about new standards and training. "Without professional development, standards alone won't make a difference for English learners."

Grantees include California State University, Chico, $384,401; California State University, East Bay, $375,208; University of California, Irvine, $400,000; National University, $382,041; Loyola Marymount University, $365,296; Sonoma State University, $194,250; San Diego State University, $590,432; San Jose State University, $400,000; California State University, San Marcos, $337,652, and Leland Stanford Junior University, $374,338.

At National University, the grant will train 140 teachers to access and teach to Common Core State Standards, which require English learners be held to the same standards as English speakers.

San Jose State University's grant will support a teacher professional development consortium involving the university, the Santa Clara County Office of Education, and the East Side Union High School District.

The grant to California State University, East Bay will fund "Project STEM," a collaboration with the Fremont Unified School District that will train 150 CSU East Bay student-teachers, 150 mentor teachers, and 10 high school teachers.

At California State University San Marcos, the professional development program for teachers of English learners includes a partnership with the Escondido Union High School District. The program will help the district's English learner population succeed in "college eligible" classes, creating effective pathways from high school to college.

And Sonoma State University will train math, science and English language arts teachers to improve English learner student achievement through a partnership with the Sonoma County Office of Education and four county school districts. more