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Teachers in Mass. District Aim for Dual Certification to Meet Student-Population Changes

To adjust to a rising population of non-English speaking students, 21 teachers in one Massachusetts district are volunteering to work off-hours to gain dual-certification in English as a second language instruction.

The Milford, Mass., district serves more than 485 English-language-learner students.The number of ELL students in the district has increased about one percent over the last year, according to Jennifer Lancaster, the district's ELL program director, and is expected to continue to rise in the future.

ELL population v. ELL staff2.pngThe teachers pursuing ESL certification have set aside 150 practicum hours for a course created by Lancaster. She created the program as a free course to prepare teachers for the Massachusetts Test for Educator License in ESL.

The issue of developing more ESL teachers is one facing many districts as they respond to changing enrollment demographics.

Lancaster said that the teachers in the Milford program, who range from grades PreK-8, have made it their professional goal to be dually-certified in ESL in order to adjust the ratio of ESL staff to the influx of ELL students. 

Lancaster said that she thought any district could take steps to offer a preparatory course like hers and give teachers more options to advance their practice. "It speaks to the teacher's passion to best serve our changing demographic," she said.

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