ELEECT Project Receives $ 2.6 Million Grant To Improve Multilingual Education In DC Area Schools
Georgetown Graduate School of Arts and Sciences announcement that the U.S. Department of Education has awarded the school’s Educational Transformation Program (MAET) a five-year National Professional Development Grant (NPD) of $ 2.6 million to support the ELEECT project ( English Learners’ Educational Excellence Capitol Teacher Training). The project serves to address a long-standing gap in multilingual education training for new and existing teachers in DC public schools.
The project is led by three principal investigators, Professor Sabrina Wesley-Nero and Professor Crissa Stephens. Both bring their multilingual teaching and research experience to community-driven efforts to promote educational equity and lead the program’s educational and sociolinguistic concentrations. Professor Douglass Reed, also director of the master’s program in educational transformation, focuses on administration and coordination within the project.
The ELEECT project partners with over 15 local charter schools, as well as DC public schools, and was designed with the NPD grant in mind. The grant supports the two main objectives of the ELEECT project: to provide professional support and to increase the affordability of training for existing and aspiring teachers. It will fund 80 percent of the cost of a new graduate certificate program for experienced teachers seeking to become more effective educators of bilingual children, while also covering 30 percent of the tuition fees of students pursuing a degree. in educational transformation. Graduates of this 12-month teacher residency program are equipped to teach in ESL and dual language programs, providing valuable resource and skills to schools with which the program partners.
Instead of the full residency program, the grant will also support existing and aspiring teachers by providing more opportunities for them to receive this training.
âI think this will expand the cadre of executives where teachers can get training to serve their emerging bilingual students,â Stephens said.
The principal researchers also stressed the importance of working with communities of interest to learn about the specific training needs of teachers and the nuances of developing a strong foundation for multilingual students.
âIt was really kind of a fundamental approach to policy making: thinking and talking to teachers, talking to principals about the kind of professional development they want. Reed said. âThe teachers we are looking for are largely those with multilingual abilities, and we want to be able to build on these strengths. “
âIt’s one thing to speak a language, it’s another to develop skills on how to teach a language,â Reed added.
The team also highlighted the importance of multilingual education in the context of the growing linguistic and racial diversity within the DC metropolitan area. DC’s immigrant community has grown steadily in size, and the city ranks among the five most diverse in the United States. About 17% of DC children aged 5 to 17 speak a home language other than English, and 12.1 percent of DC residents are foreign-born. The high concentration has led to a wide range of languages ââin the DMV region, including Spanish, Amharic, Chinese, French, Vietnamese and Korean, from the large immigrant communities of Latin America, East Africa and East Asia.
âNationally, you often see disparities in educational achievement between these lines, so that’s one thing,â Stephens said of the disproportionately high enrollment rates of people of color compared to their white peers. âThe other thing is also about culture and identity issues and how people’s linguistic identities are actually sometimes linked to their racial identities. “
One of the main ways the project aims to address this source of educational inequity is by supporting the faculty of color.
âResearch indicates that students of color can achieve higher academic results when they have teachers who share their social identity,â Wesley-Nero said. âA diverse teaching force benefits everyone. “
The five-year grant awarded in November enables the ELEECT project to lay the groundwork for community engagement and impact, and the program architects are looking to leverage a project-built feedback system through which adjustments can be made based on annual reviews. They also strongly encourage Georgetown undergraduates to consider getting involved by taking the Undergraduate Investigation and Justice program, or enrolling in the graduate program itself.
âIt’s a real opportunity to use your language strengths and use your language knowledge base and work with students from all over the world,â said Reed. “If you like to teach, if you like to be in a classroom, if you like to use the language in an interesting way, I think this is a great opportunity for students to get their masters in a way that can do good in the world. ”