INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indiana Department of Education has launched a program to license state educators to teach the English language.
In partnership with the University of Indianapolis Center of Excellence in Learning Leadership, the state Department of Education helps fund coursework leading to a full license.
The Indiana Teachers of English Learners Licensure initiative will fully fund tuition, books and materials fees for current educators and undergraduate graduates to complete the coursework leading to the English as a New Language License. Indiana has more than 77,500 English learners.
Indiana Secretary of Education Katie Jenner shared a statement about the program in a press release issued Monday.
“Our data on the academic impact of COVID-19 shows that Indiana’s English learners have experienced significant academic impact and have still not returned to year-on-year academic growth before the pandemic. The best way to ensure our students accelerate their learning is to ensure they are supported by quality, well-trained teachers. Like STEM and special education teachers, we see a significant need for English learners. Through the new I-TELL initiative, we will provide opportunities for more educators to be trained and certified to teach and positively impact our English learners.”
She said the state has seen a 50% increase in English learners since 2016, so the goal is to increase the number of qualified English learners. “If anyone out there has a calling or desire to be a part of making a big impact for children, especially our English learners in this case, please go to IndianaTell.org and consider applying to join us in the ministry.” of our English learners.”
An initial listing of preparatory and transition programs for teachers participating in the Indiana Teachers of English Learners Licensure Initiative is available online. Other colleges and universities interested in participating in the program are also invited to join.
Carey Dahncke, executive director of the University of Indianapolis’ Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning, also shared a statement in Monday’s news release.
“The number of students in Indiana who do not speak English as their first language continues to grow rapidly. For these students, access to highly qualified English teachers is vital. I-TELL will offer support to the many schools across the state that need more of these licensed English teachers.”
He said schools that taught English in Indiana used to be exceptional, and now it’s very common.
The Indiana Teachers of English Learners Licensure is funded by $2 million in federal primary and secondary school emergency aid funds received from the state government. The initiative will begin as the number of Indiana teachers licensed to teach English as a new language increased 38% from 2019 to 2021, with over 860 more licensed educators statewide than in 2019, according to the Department of Education.
In addition to the ESL license, many other educators are also qualified to serve English learners across Indiana by completing previously available alternative rubric requirements.
Dahncke said, “If a teacher has an existing teaching license and all they want to do is add the additional coursework to add the ENL, then they could probably complete that within a couple of months.”