Pennsylvania is requiring all its teacher-preparation programs to provide teacher-candidates with three credit hours of training in how to work with English-language learners and nine credit hours in how to work with special education students.
The regulation was approved in June. By Jan. 1, 2011, all colleges and universities in Pennsylvania must meet the mandate, according to Leah M. Harris, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania education department. “We looked at the makeup of our students and classroom instruction, and it was very evident that teachers don’t just deal with students that some people would say are regular students in their classrooms,” she said.
The three-credit-hour requirement regarding teaching ELLs is only one course.
But only three states—Arizona, Florida, and New York—require all prospective teachers to receive training in how to work with ELLs, according to Quality Counts 2009, a report published by Education Week in January. Only 11 states have incentives such as scholarships or tuition reimbursements for teachers to get an endorsement to teach ELLs.
Pennsylvania doesn’t recognize a stand-alone endorsement for teaching ELLs, Ms. Harris explained. Instead, teachers who specialize in teaching English-as-a-second-language in the state are required to be certified in another subject and to take 12 credits in how to work with ELLs on top of that. (The Pennsylvania education department has a Q&A about teaching ESL in the state.)
I checked out Pennsylvania’s policies for teachers of ELLs after reading a piece, “The bar is low for ESOL teachers in Pa.,” posted at The Notebook, an independent news source about public education in Philadelphia.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.