FIU’s School of Education and Human Development has received $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Education to recruit, train and support educators to better serve bilingual and multilingual students in Miami-Dade County public schools.
The award is part of more than $7 million the U.S. Department of Education is investing through the Augustus F. Hawkins Centers of Excellence Program to increase the number of well-prepared teachers from diverse backgrounds teaching in high-needs schools nationwide.
English learners are the fastest growing student demographic. About 10 percent of public school students in Florida are considered English learners. For Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS), that number more than doubles to 22.9 percent. However, those students also have some of the lowest achievement levels and graduation rates, partly due to the increasing shortage of teachers trained to meet their specific needs.
As one of the country’s top Hispanic Serving Institutions, FIU will play a critical role in closing this gap, through evidence-based, comprehensive, state accredited, and nationally recognized teacher preparation programs that provide extensive clinical experience.
“At its core, this funding will better prepare future teachers to meet the needs of their diverse students while situating Florida International University as a leading institution to prepare teachers for real-world settings,” said Sarah Mathews, chair of the Department of Teaching and Learning and principal investigator on the grant.
Titled Supporting Educators to Educate Diverse Students (SEEDS) the project will consist of four teacher preparation tracks, including a cohort of paraprofessionals already employed. There will be two cohorts of English speakers, two cohorts of bilingual or multilingual speakers focusing on Spanish and English, and two cohorts of bilingual or multilingual speakers focusing on Haitian Creole and English.
The grant will provide financial support for undergraduate students at FIU with access to teacher, community and peer mentors during the teaching internship process. This addresses some of the barriers that negatively impact student enrollment in teacher preparation programs by including paid teaching experiences, test preparation and dedicated advising. Specifically for M-DCPS, Project SEEDS will help more than 100 teacher candidates and paraprofessionals secure early employment.
“The goal is to disrupt the cycle of teacher shortage and ensure students graduate significantly more prepared to work in high-need schools and improve student success,” Mathews said.
This project supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality Education which aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
Ayleen Barbel Fattal