DMPS One of Three Districts Awarded State ELL Grants
The Iowa Department of Education today announced that three Iowa school districts – including Des Moines Public Schools – were awarded state grants to boost the literacy skills of students who are English Language Learners.
Through the grant, DMPS is partnering with the Diocese of Des Moines to pilot a comprehensive language and literacy development framework for ELL students at two public schools and six nonpublic schools. The project will support additional one-on-one instruction, professional development training for teachers, intensive vocabulary instruction, and develop written language skills.
The Department of Education press release with additional details about the grant is below:
DES MOINES – Iowa Department of Education Director Brad Buck today announced the Denison, Des Moines and Postville school districts won a state grant in partnership with the Department to boost the literacy skills of students who don’t speak English as their native language.
The goal of the grant program is to develop effective literacy programs in each school district to raise the achievement of students identified as English Language Learners. Each program will apply research-based practices, clear achievement goals and a system to evaluate its impact on student performance.
The grant program was created by Iowa lawmakers. It provides $500,000 for the first year, with the possibility of $1.5 million over three years, depending upon state appropriations.
“This is a great opportunity to apply innovative approaches in some school districts that have higher populations of students who do not speak English as their native language,” Buck said. “There’s a lot we can learn from the experiences of these three school districts as our statewide population of English Language Learners continues to grow.”
The number of Iowa students participating in English Language Learner programs has more than doubled since 2000. A total of 25,275 English Language Learners enrolled in Iowa’s public and nonpublic schools during the 2013-14 school year. English Language Learners make up about 5 percent of Iowa’s total school enrollment.
Iowa also faces a significant gap in reading achievement between students who do and do not speak English as their native language. About 42 percent of English Language Learners in fourth grade were proficient on the state reading test during the 2013-14 school year, compared to 78 percent of native English speakers.
Proposals submitted by the Denison, Des Moines and Postville school districts have elements of key state literacy efforts, including a proven procedure known as Multi-Tiered System of Supports. Through this procedure, educators use student data to judge the overall health of their schools, to provide extra support to struggling students, and to determine whether that support is making a difference.
The districts’ plans, according to their applications, are as follows:
- The Denison Community School District will focus on improving teaching and school leadership to meet the literacy needs of English Language Learners in kindergarten through 12th grade. This will include measuring the effectiveness of professional development training for teachers and school administrators. The district also will design a system to help schools identify and diagnose learning problems quickly, to customize instruction to correct the problems, and to monitor student progress along the way.
- Des Moines Public Schools will partner with the Diocese of Des Moines to pilot a comprehensive language and literacy development framework for English Language Learners at two public schools (Carver Elementary and Hiatt Middle School) and six nonpublic schools (Christ the King, St. Anthony, Holy Family, St. Theresa, St. Augustin, and Holy Trinity). The project will serve English Language Learners in a variety of ways, from one-on-one instruction to the general education setting, and will include professional development training for teachers. The project will emphasize intensive vocabulary instruction using a variety of classroom activities, as well as providing regular, structured opportunities to develop written language skills.
- The Postville Community School District will design “a K-12 newcomer program” for English Language Learners that emphasizes literacy through the targeted instruction of vocabulary, oral and written language, and socio-cultural norms for behavior (such as a handshake between two people who are meeting for the first time). The newcomer program will provide opportunities for small-group intensive instruction and collaboration among English Language Learners. The district will hire an instructional coach to help teachers in other subject areas better serve the literacy needs of English Language Learners.