New report from the Council for Great City Schools (CGCS) on the State of English Learners and Teacher Preparation

Joining Hands

In this section of the CGS report, I will give a quick synopsis of teacher preparation across 53 of the 75 reporting largest public school districts in the US.

For access to the report please click on the link and go to page 91.

The section begins by sharing how difficult it is to capture this information because each state requirements may seem the same but the discrete requirements may be different.  However, there are several interesting findings of the 53 reporting member districts of the largest public school districts in the US.

  1. Of the 53 districts, only 4(7%) reported that teachers take college or other level coursework for teaching English learners (no specific information is provided on the number of hours, credits or other metrics).
  2. Of the 53 districts, 11 (20%) districts require professional development in teaching English learners
  3. Of the 53 districts, 6 (11%) districts reported that they required that a bilingual teacher have a ESL/Bilingual Education License/Certification
  4. Of the 53 districts, 18 (34%) districts reported that bilingual teachers only need to have an ESL//Bilingual Education Endorsement/Credential
  5.  of the 53 districts, 13 (25%) reporting districts indicated that their state had no specific requirement for bilingual teachers in order to provide instruction to ELLs.
  6. Of the 53 districts, 4 (7%) districts reported no state requirements for ESL teachers of ELLs.
  7. They also shared the following statistic from a similar report “The 2014 report by the Education Commission of the States indicated that over 30 states do not require ELL training for general classroom teachers beyond the federal requirements.6” (Uro &    , 2019).

Page 99 also addresses teacher licensure of special education teachers working with English Learners with disabilities:

1. 28 percent of 53 districts reported requiring that special education teachers of ELLs have an ESL/Bilingual EducationEndorsement/Credential

2. 19 percent of the 53 districts reported requiring professional development hours for these teachers.

3. 50% of the 53 reporting districts indicated no state requirements for special education teachers of ELLs.

This is interesting as we need to address what the teacher preparation includes.  Does it include a separate degree in each area?  Professional development hours, passing of the ESL test?  Teacher preparation programs have an opportunity to really address the field of bilingual special education for what it is.  It is its own field.  It has been around for over 40 years yet, we still agree to take people with a degree in special education and minimal training/preparation in ELS or vice versa or we offer them classes in special education or ESL depending on the master’s program and expect the teachers to go back to their classrooms to make the connections.  Researchers in the field struggle to show the connection, teachers are not well prepared to do it themselves.  We must develop more programs that address the field of bilingual special education.  That address the real needs of these children and that address the issue of disability or language difference.  We must require the states to put priorities in this area and put their funding there as well.  We must look and respond in ethical and responsible ways to address the current needs of this growing population.  We need teachers who know the field of bilingual special education.

To date, just a few programs preparing teachers in bilingual education exists.

Lasell College has a graduate certificate (4 course program on Teaching Bilingual Special Education)

Portland State University has a masters on Bilingual Special education

Do you know of others?  Please let us know.

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