UNT shares SUCCESS with English language learners and families

The first year of a $2.7 million grant that gets University of North Texas’ College of Education working with teachers of English language learners in the Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District is in the books with a little help from Dean Randy Bomer.

The Title III National Professional Development Project SUCCESS is a five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education awarded to Rossana Boyd, director of the Bilingual/ESL Teacher Education Program, as principal investigator and Ricardo González-Carriedo, associate professor, as co-principal investigator. Both work in UNT’s Department of Teacher Education and Administration.

The partnership is about to wrap up the first year of the project benefiting 70 Latino families and about 100 English learners through the Latino Family Literacy Project.

Dean Bomer and Carrollton Farmers Branch ISD’s former Superintendent Bobby Burns recently handed out bilingual books for home libraries to parents participating in the project at a special event at Central Elementary School in Carrollton to celebrate the program.

The program’s focus is on working with parents on ways to help their children with literacy and biliteracy development and to establish a reading routine at home with their children.

Only about half of the parents speak English with Spanish being the dominant language at home.

Parents worked with the teachers at the schools for 10 weeks learning how to teach reading to their children in English and Spanish at home.

UNT also recruited 15 students pursuing teaching certification in bilingual education and English as a second language education to participate in professional development on how to develop culturally responsive lessons, alternative assessments, and how to use the state’s English language proficiency standards. They worked with 15 teachers in grades PreK-2 from Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD to help plan and implement activities to guide Latino parents on how to help their children with literacy and biliteracy development.

“(UNT students) received scholarships to pay for tuition and fees for five courses, and they participated in 20 hours of professional development. These included working with the CFBISD teachers to teach families how to read to their children in English and Spanish,” Boyd said.

Boyd described the program as a unique opportunity for UNT students who normally don’t get to work with parents and community members until they are teaching. It also helps expose those students to parents for whom English is not their native language.

The grant also provided professional development to 20 content and dual language teachers, and six 3rd grade English Language Arts teachers. These last started their professional development through a literacy course offered by Janelle Mathis from the College of Education.

Boyd said they plan to repeat the same activities in year two of the project starting Sept. 1.

“But one activity that will be implemented in the fall for the first time by a cohort of 3rd grade teachers participating in a quasi-experimental study is small group instructional interventions for ELs struggling to read,” Boyd said. “Our evaluation team led by Dr. Darrell Hull, also from the College of Education, will collect student baseline reading performance data. They will use it to find out if after the teachers implemented the interventions the improved instruction for ELs resulted in higher student academic outcomes.”