The Reaching English Learners Act has been introduced in Congress in hopes of creating a solution to the national shortage of ELL teachers. The act would create a grant program under Title II of the Higher Education Act. The grants will be awarded on a competitive basis to eligible teachers. The grants aim to ensure that teachers possess the knowledge necessary to effectively instruct English learners.
The grants will be awarded for up to five years and do the following:
- develop or strengthen an undergraduate, postbaccalaureate, or master’s teacher preparation program by integrating strategies for teaching English learners into the education curriculum and academic content;
- provide teacher candidates participating in a program with skills related to helping English learners achieve high levels in kindergarten, elementary schools and secondary schools;
- help ELLs achieve English proficiency;
- aid teachers in appropriately identifying and meeting the specific learning needs of children with disabilities who are English learners;
- aid teachers in recognizing and addressing the social and emotional needs of English learners;
- provide funds for teachers to promote parental, family, and community engagement in educational programs that serve English learners;
- provide work-based learning opportunities for teacher candidates participating in the program;
- provide teacher candidates with the required coursework to qualify for an English-as-a second-language endorsement or initial teaching credential
With at least 32 states in the U.S. suffering from ELL teaching shortages, the doors the grant would open could help struggling school districts find qualified bilingual teachers.