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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

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Apples and classroom supplies (Photo by Steve Buissinne / Pixabay.) Apples and classroom supplies (Photo by Steve Buissinne / Pixabay.)

$3.5 Million Grant Addresses Bilingual Teacher Shortage

The Department of Dual Language and English Learner Education is partnering with four counties, including San Diego.
By Michael Klitzing

San Diego State University will lead a new federally funded partnership to train hundreds of new bilingual educators for high-need communities across California.

Project Teach Bilingual Pathways will be funded by a $3.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of English Language Acquisition. SDSU will complete its work in concert with a consortium of regional partners, including the San Diego County Office of Education and its counterparts in Imperial County, Orange County and Butte County.

According to the California Department of Education, the state’s population of 1.1 million English learners is the nation’s largest. Meanwhile, the state has faced persistent shortages of qualified bilingual educators.

“This grant addresses the needs of populations with high teacher shortages and populations that have historically not been served — for example, those in rural communities,” said Margarita Machado-Casas, professor and chair of SDSU’s Department of Dual Language and English Learner Education (DLE), principal investigator on the grant.

“At the end of the day, it's about access. Rural county offices of education struggle with getting their populations access to pursue bilingual  credentials.”
Project Teach Bilingual Pathways will take a three-pronged approach to meeting these growing needs.

Over the course of five years, SDSU will admit 50 pre-service teachers and 200 in-service teachers in San Diego, Orange, Imperial and Butte counties into its online bilingual teacher credential programs. That equates to roughly 50 new candidates per year matriculating into DLE’s program — already the largest producer of bilingual educators in the state.

“DLE has experienced continuous growth and this grant will allow us to expand on that and serve as a national model for the preparation of future bilingual teachers — not only in the state of California but also across the country,” Machado-Casas said. “This really gives us a national platform."

SDSU will also partner with the Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE) to engage more than 400 families and caregivers of English learners in the four counties. The project will launch institutes that will seek to empower parents to support their children’s language and literacy achievement, and build connections between student teachers and the communities they will soon serve.

Finally, the project will provide an opportunity to conduct research aimed at fine-tuning curriculum that prepares teachers to meet the needs of English learners.

California’s only autonomous bilingual credential program, DLE also pioneered the state’s first online/hybrid bilingual credential program. In recent years it has extensively partnered with Butte County Office of Education’s Future Educator Support programs — directed by SDSU lecturer and Project Teach Bilingual Pathways co-principal investigator Guillermo Castillo — to expand access to its online programs through its Project Access and Classified Staff Grant Pathway initiatives.