Campus: CSU Long Beach -- April 14, 2003

CSULB Center for Language Minority Education, Research Receives $1.4 Million Grant from U.S. Department of Education

The Center for Language Minority Education and Research (CLMER) at California State University, Long Beach has been awarded a $1.45 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education for a joint project with the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) to improve the professional preparation of teachers working with English language learners.

Titled the “Long Beach Collaborative for English Language Learner Success,” the five-year project will provide tuition stipends, flexible certification courses and innovative coaching and mentoring support to address specific teacher professional development needs and help project participants attain their California Cross-Cultural Language and Academic Development (CLAD) certification to work with diverse English-language learners.

“The most important aspect of this project is that teachers will receive the sustained support needed to engage in authentic, substantive changes to their classroom teaching and learning practices in ways that promote success for English learners,” said Kevin Rocap, CLMER’s director of programs and development and project director.

LBUSD is the third largest district in California and the 35th largest in the nation. In 2001, the district’s K-12 enrollment was 96,488, and currently 78.8 percent of those enrolled are racial and/or ethnic “minorities.” That proportion is increasing within the district at a rate of about 2 percent per year.

In Long Beach, one in three students (31,000-plus) is classified as limited English proficient, and the largest non-English primary languages are Spanish (26,046), Khmer (3,488), Pilipino (357) and Vietnamese (357). Finding and preparing qualified teachers able to serve this population is a problem for Long Beach as well as other communities in the country experiencing demographic shifts.

“Our goal is to work with a group of about 25 teachers per year for each of the five years of the project to ultimately have 125 teachers who get their appropriate CLAD authorization,” Rocap noted. “That number of prepared and qualified teachers will go a long way toward addressing the needs of Long Beach Unified’s English language learners.”

Rocap said the program will use a distributed learning model that will incorporate a mixture of on-line and off-line activities within the courses as well as face-to-face and on-line professional development learning communities. At the same time, project administrators will take a look at course content with a view of its direct application in the classroom.

As a result, there will be an emphasis in applying the skills and knowledge gained through coursework in each teacher’s classroom, according to Rocap. He also noted that there will be a strong component of coaching and mentoring from course instructors, CLMER staff members and district- and site-level coaches designated within the Long Beach district.

“We want to look at what we know from research and from practice are optimal ways to work with diverse English language learners and create courses that are more tied to the realities of classroom practice,” Rocap explained. “A lot of the practices and performances will be expected to take place in the teachers’ classrooms so that they have a direct impact on the students.
“But, the teachers won’t be doing it without support,” he added. “They will be doing it with the support of staff and instructors from CLMER working in collaboration with the district-level coaches and mentors and the site coaches and mentors. That’s what is really unique about this particular proposal.”

Project officials see the communication and collaboration as a two-way street in that they are expecting that teachers’ realities in the classroom will inform CLMER researchers of what works and why for different classrooms as it pertains to helping English language learners succeed.

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