Recruitment & Retention Opinion

How a Bilingual Educator Pipeline Gets Built

By Urban Education Contributor — July 23, 2018 4 min read
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This week we are hearing from REL Northwest (@relnw), which is located at Education Northwest (@educationnw). This post is by Trevor Soponis, Senior Advisor at Education Northwest.

Today’s post is written from the researcher perspective. Stay tuned: Thursday we will share the practitioner’s perspective on this research.

Research shows that all students can benefit from bilingual and dual-language education: For instance, bilingual and dual-language education has been shown to have a positive impact on the achievement of both English learner and non-English learner students.

However, there is a national shortage of bilingual teachers—which is creating a demographic mismatch between educators and the rapidly growing population of English learner students.

When Oregon’s largest school district—Portland Public Schools (PPS)—found itself facing this problem at the beginning of the 2015-16 school year, the district decided to partner with Portland State University (PSU) to recruit, develop, and retain bilingual teachers, with an emphasis on biliterate and bicultural teachers, thus establishing a fully articulated system for the recruitment, training, retention, and continued support of bilingual teacher candidates.

Known as the Oregon Bilingual Teacher Pipeline Collaborative, this partnership is working with REL Northwest to begin a data-collection process that focuses on the experience of new teachers in the pipeline. REL Northwest is also supporting the collaborative’s efforts to optimize the Portland Dual Language Teacher Fellows Program, the alternative licensure program the district and university offer.

What The Collaborative Examines

Specifically, with REL Northwest’s facilitation, the collaborative is working to:

  • Build school and district capacity to use data and evidence to better understand their staffing needs and current recruitment, development, and retention practices
  • Collect and analyze data on teacher perceptions of the effectiveness of the bilingual pathway program
  • Use formative data to plan and support the professional learning of bilingual teachers
  • Review and summarize evidence-based practices for recruiting and retaining bilingual teachers of color

Ultimately, the goal is to design the alignment of supports for program participants at the school, district, and university level by using data to determine the best ways to scaffold their learning.

And because dual-language educators teach in a variety of settings with a variety of responsibilities, it is critical to research what supports are best for them and set them up for success—especially in terms of retention and classroom effectiveness.

Key Takeaways and Implications for Practice

Through our work with the collaborative, we have found that it is critical to clearly identify roles and responsibilities for all stakeholders. For instance, if a new teacher is struggling, who is their primary support? Who is responsible for collecting program data, and when and how do they share those data?

Answering these questions is critical for both immediate and long-term program improvement.

Doing so is crucial to building the capacity of individuals and organizations to share data and collectively engage in the process of continuous improvement.

This research-practice partnership has also underscored the key role district-university partnerships play in the onboarding and retention efforts for new dual-language teachers. The support new teachers perceive from both their school and university impacts their decisions about their teaching career.

In addition, a major lesson learned is that it’s essential for teacher candidates to have a consistent vision of instruction and assessment from both their district and college or university.

In this case, new teachers were reporting that they were receiving different feedback from their principal, mentor, university supervisor, and professors, and as a result, weren’t always clear on how to improve their teaching practice. Aligning feedback helps new teachers know what they need to do to improve their instruction in their very next class.

This helps put new teachers on a path to success—and ultimately helps them serve the diverse needs of all students.

Previous blog posts by Education Northwest:

Curious about other research topics partnerships have written about for this blog? See this Guide to the NNERPP EdWeek Blog for all previous blog posts organized by research topic area to easily find other posts of particular interest to you!

The opinions expressed in Urban Education Reform: Bridging Research and Practice are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.