The U.S. Department of Education has awarded a $1.68 million grant to Framingham State University to help develop master's level, highly-qualified teachers to educate local English Language Learners, or ELL, populations.
The university applied for the five-year grant through the National Professional Development Program, in partnership with Wachusett Regional School District, Cambridge Public Schools and Marlboro Public Schools.
The grant money will be used to pay tuition for 40 teachers to earn their master’s degrees in Teaching English as a Second Language at Framingham State University.
The money will also be used to provide professional development to a minimum of 300 teachers from the partner school districts. Framingham State will work with these school districts to establish a cross-district collaborative advisory council, as well as a data collection method to allow the university to track the progress of program participants for up to three years after the program is completed.
The grant was submitted by Marguerite Mahler, coordinator and advisor to Framingham State’s master’s degree program in Teaching English as a Second Language, in collaboration with Kelley Gangi, curriculum supervisor at Wachusett Regional School District.
“This grant should expand Division of Graduate and Continuing Education enrollment by establishing the university as the statewide leader in developing teachers who are highly qualified in supporting the English Language Learner population,” Mahler said in a prepared statement.
Mahler said it is imperative for the state to improve instruction for ELL students in order to close the achievement gap and increase graduation rates among that group.
Nearly 10 percent of all students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12 have limited proficiency in English, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Education.
The work to improve qualifications of ELL certified teachers has been slow, as professional development is not always accessible to teachers in all school districts.
“This grant comes at a critical time for the state,” Mahler says. “It should go a long way toward improving instruction for this growing segment of students.”
Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org