Aug. 6, 2008
A federally funded program at Morningside College that helps teachers to better serve students learning English as a second language (ESL) received an excellent first-year evaluation and will receive more than $230,000 in funding for its second year.
Because of the favorable evaluation, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) will continue funding Project Unlimited Proficiency (PUP) through the grant awarded to Morningside College last year. PUP offers area teachers the opportunity to prepare to acquire state certification, or endorsement, for working with ESL students. The program shows teachers how they can, while still teaching in English, help ESL students understand what’s going on and continue to develop their English skills, said Joan Nielsen, PUP director and an assistant professor of education at Morningside College.
Robert Fanning, who conducted an external evaluation of the program in May, praised PUP for the results achieved during its first year.
“In all my years of service in the field of education – 35 plus years in public education with eight years as a federal external evaluator for federally funded education grants – Ms. Joan Nielsen, Mr. John Gilbert and Ms. Amy Kettmann and those education agencies who work closely with Morningside College demonstrated the most comprehensive and quality outcomes of any first-year grant that I have ever evaluated,” Fanning said. “All project and federal goals were met, all expected outcomes were achieved and consistent documentation of these efforts was soundly in place.”
The Morningside College Education Department submitted a PUP grant application to the DOE last year in consortium with Northwest AEA. As part of the grant, 30 area teachers have received scholarships to pay for their tuition and books for the ESL courses, and 30 more teachers are expected to receive scholarships to begin the program in the fall of 2009. Teachers who successfully complete the program will earn 18 hours of graduate credit, which they may choose to apply toward the requirements for a Master of Arts in teaching (MAT) degree from Morningside.
Teachers currently enrolled in the PUP program work in elementary, middle and high schools in the Sioux City, Akron-Westfield, Boyden-Hull, Cherokee, Denison and West Sioux school districts. In addition to the 30 teachers involved in the grant-funded program, Morningside also responded to a request to offer the ESL endorsement program to 16 teachers in Storm Lake, Iowa.
Both in the grant-funded program and in Storm Lake, teachers meet weekly in their own school districts and hold their own class sessions, using resources provided to them by Morningside College. They receive coaching online or in person from Gilbert, PUP project manager, and they complete both individual and group assignments.
“Research shows that when students attend classes, talk to the teacher and go home, there’s less chance of them using what they’ve learned than when they apply it in a cohort group in their own setting and discuss it,” Nielsen said. “So that’s how they work, and then they complete a project and present it at the end of every class.”
All of the teachers get together on the Morningside College campus at least twice during the semester, and at some point during the 2.5-year program, they come to the college for an intensive weeklong summer institute.
Teachers interested in learning more about the ESL endorsement program at Morningside College may contact Kettmann, PUP administrative assistant, by phone at (712) 274-5346 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. They also may visit PUP’s Web site, which is coming online and will be linked to the Web page of Morningside’s graduate program, webs.morningside.edu/gradedu/
Morningside College has educated teachers since its founding in 1894, and the graduate program began in the 1960s. The undergraduate program prepares students for teaching careers in elementary, secondary or special education. The graduate program offers a MAT degree with “professional educator” or “special education” tracks, and it prepares teachers for endorsements in ESL, reading, middle school, special education, and talented and gifted. More than 500 teachers from across the state of Iowa enroll in Morningside’s graduate courses each year.