California State University, Long Beach
Inside CSULB Logo

CPEC Grant To Help Prepare Teachers For New Standards

Published: October 17, 2011

CSULB has received a $249,752 grant from the California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC) to help prepare teachers for new Common Core State Standards with English Learners.

The funding to CSULB is part of $3.5 million in grants awarded statewide by CPEC to 14 K-12 teacher professional development projects. It is provided by the Improving Teacher Quality (ITQ) State Grants Program, which supports projects designed to improve instruction skills and content knowledge of teachers and principals in an effort to raise student achievement.

The 14-month CSULB project, which began this month, represents a collaborative effort involving CSULB, the Lennox School District and the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) to help Lennox teachers strengthen their content knowledge to effectively implement the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Literacy in history/social studies, science and technical subjects. It will involve selected K-8 teachers in all district schools with a key focus on implementing the Common Core State Standards with a significant English language learner population.

“For this particular grant, we have chosen a heavily Latino school district and by far the greatest language we are dealing with is Spanish,” said CSULB’s Leslie Reese, a professor in teacher education and the executive director of the Center for Language Minority Education and Research (CLMER). “The project is about implementation of the common core standards, which are national standards that have been adopted by most states nationwide, so they’re for everybody.”

According to Reese, common core standards came into effect nationally in 2009 and were adopted in California in 2010.

Rhoda Coleman, a faculty member in CSULB’s College of Education and a professional development specialist at CLMER, will coordinate the professional development for this project. She is a former Teacher of the Year in the Lennox School District and former consultant with the LACOE. Reese did her doctoral study in the Lennox School District as well, so they, as well as CLMER, have a long history of working with the district.

CLMER, which has been in existence since 1993, will provide professional development faculty who are well versed in differentiation of English-language arts instruction and addressing the instructional needs of English learners. They will facilitate the Phase I professional development of 36 lead English/Spanish Language Arts (E/SLA) teachers with support from LACOE and CSULB English and ELA methods faculty.

Phase I will involve monthly professional development and collaborative planning sessions. Phase II involves the participation of lead teachers and an additional 28 grade-level representative teachers in five days of training provided by LACOE and CSULB faculty with grade-level implementation groups facilitated by the E/SLA lead teachers.

LACOE will provide training in examination of the existing California standards and the Common Core State Standards using California Department of Education documents, “A Look at Kindergarten through Grade Five,” for elementary grades; and “Administrator’s Snapshot” for grades K-12.

This particular project came about in response to the needs of the students who are served in the Lennox School District.

“The Lennox School District has a large percentage of English-language learners, kids who come to school speaking a language other than English and are not yet proficient in English,” noted Reese. “CLMER’s mission is to conduct both research and professional development to assist local school districts in working with that population.”

“One important goal this year was to generate discussion between university and school districts. Successfully using the new standards relies on the knowledge, skills and abilities of teachers and faculty alike,” said CPEC executive director Karen Humphrey. “The grants provide a way to work toward a common goal: student success from elementary school through college.”

Teachers will take a survey at the beginning of the project to assess their knowledge about the common core standards and they’ll be developing lesson plans as they work with the professional development staff.

“We will be looking at the amount they learned about the common core standards as a result of participating,” said Reese. “We will also do an evaluation of their lesson plans to gauge the extent to which they are now including in their lesson plans elements from the common core standards and elements to enhance the learning of English learners in particular. The goal of this professional development project is to enhance teachers’ understanding and ability to use the standards.”

In addition to Reese and Coleman, faculty members participating in the project include Fay Shin, and Paul Boyd-Batstone from the College of Education and Carol Zitzer-Comfort from the College of Liberal Arts.

–Shayne Schroeder