Colorado Department of Education awards $290,000 to support English language learners


The Colorado Department of Higher Education recently awarded $290,000 in federal funding to UCCS to support work with Harrison School District 2 and Colorado Springs School District 11 in training educators of young English language learners.

The Improving Teacher Quality grants are designed to support partnerships between institutions of higher education and school districts. The grants are part of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act and are distributed to states for disbursement.

A total of six institutions applied for the latest round of funding, which was focused on addressing the specific literacy needs of English language learners in grades pre-kindergarten through 3. UCCS was the sole award recipient and was notified Feb. 1.

The DHE has awarded more than $800,000 in the federal grants in recent months, with the goal of improving K-12 achievement by boosting teacher quality.

Colorado has seen rapid growth in the number of English language learners in its K-12 schools, with the state Department of Education reporting a more than 250 percent increase since 1994. Most of that growth has been in the elementary grades.

In its grant application, the UCCS College of Education said work with its two district partners will include “a sustained program of workshops, discussions, online resources, an intensive summer institute and structured observation sessions” for teachers. The project also calls for “the valuing of students’ identities” as emerging bilingual learners.

The grant was submitted by three College of Education faculty from the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Barbara Frye, associate professor, Angela Bell, assistant professor, and Leslie Grant, associate professor. They will  serve as the grant’s principal investigators.