Written by Dylan Allen

As the number of English learner students attending Texas schools grows, the number of teachers and leaders prepared to serve them must also keep pace.

Project Preparing Academic Leaders: Teachers of English Learners (PAL), a new five-year grant at Texas A&M University, will provide teacher professional development and improve instruction at schools with large numbers of English learners (ELs). This U.S. Department of Education grant is worth $2.56 million and headed by Dr. Beverly J. Irby, College of Education and Human Development Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Co-principal investigators on PAL include Dr. Mario Torres, Educational Administration and Human Resource Development interim department head; Dr. Jean Madsen, professor of educational administration; Dr. Rafael Lara-Alecio, Regents Professor; and Dr. Fuhui Tong, associate professor of bilingual education.

The project will include 120 in-service teachers from an initial 26 districts. The purpose of the project is to train bilingual/ESL teachers to lead efforts to increase instructional capacity on campuses with large populations of ELs.

“Developing leadership on campuses is key to developing learning environments where all students can thrive and be their best,” Dr. Irby said.

In-service teachers will meet high professional standards as they are able to receive dual advanced professional certificates in bilingual or English as second language education and educational administration. The project will offer a grand total of 540 hours of professional development, 260 hours of professional practicum throughout the year and a summer residency on a campus that serves ELs. Researchers on the project will also examine the efficacy of virtual mentoring and coaching for these teachers.

According to Dr. Irby, “It is our goal to develop effective new leaders to better educate English learners.”

PAL is one of two National Professional Development grants awarded to Dr. Irby in 2017.