William Paterson receives $1.5M grant for English learners

| 05 Jul 2012 | 12:05

    WAYNE — William Paterson University in Wayne has been awarded a five-year, $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to improve the classroom instruction of kindergarten through grade 12 English learners in the Paterson, Passaic and Clifton schools through enhanced preparation of pre-service and in-service teachers and higher education faculty. William Paterson was the only college or university in New Jersey to receive funding through this grant program.

    The University’s College of Education and College of Humanities and Social Sciences will partner on the project, “Preparing All Teachers to Better Serve English Learners,” which is designed to provide both new and veteran teachers with additional skills to meet the growing needs of English learners in elementary and secondary school classrooms in New Jersey. According to the U.S. Department of Education, one in nine public school students in the United States in grades kindergarten through 12 comes from a home where a language other than English is spoken and has been classified as limited English proficient.

    “Our partner schools in Paterson, Passaic, and Clifton have expressed a great need for ongoing and sustainable professional development efforts to better serve English learners in their districts,” said Candace Burns, dean of the University’s College of Education. “We are excited about this opportunity to help pre-service and in-service teachers learn best practices in teaching this rapidly growing segment of the school-age population.”

    “Most English language learners quickly learn the basic oral English skills necessary to engage in social interactions and follow directions in classrooms,” said Carrie Hong, assistant professor of educational leadership and professional studies and director of the project. “However, many English learners encounter difficulties in school because they lack the academic language required to read to learn from content-area texts. In order to close the gaps in achievement, it is essential that teachers acquire the proper training to meet the needs of English learners.” Gladys Scott, assistant professor of languages and cultures, serves as co-director of the grant project.

    The grant will pay tuition for selected math and science teachers to learn English as a second language certification at the graduate level, as well as for undergraduate teacher candidates—particularly those seeking certification in math and science—to pursue to pursue bilingual certification as an endorsement on their initial teaching certification. The grant also will support enhancements to teacher preparation programs on the undergraduate and graduate levels by more systematically incorporating instructional practices for English learners into the curriculum and will provide professional development workshops for teachers and other educational personnel in effective instructional practices for English learners.