Race to the Top funds EL graduate courses for 130 Metro Nashville Public Schools

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Through a partnership between Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools and Lipscomb University, 130 Metro teachers will receive 12 hours of graduate-level coursework at Lipscomb University tuition-free, preparing them not only to earn the English Learner (EL) certification from the state, but also to teach more confidently in all of Nashville’s increasingly diverse classrooms.
Recognizing that population changes have made instruction of English learners a critical need in the Nashville school system, Metro Schools contracted with Lipscomb University this month to be the exclusive provider to 130 K-6 teachers. The program was developed through the collaborative efforts of the district’s English Learner Transformational Leadership Group. One of the areas of focus for this group is increasing effective instruction for English learners.
The weekend courses, like all of Lipscomb’s courses in English learning, are designed to help teachers identify the learning needs of EL students in the areas of speaking, listening, reading and writing and then to implement research-based instructional practices in their classrooms based on those needs.
Upon completion of the program, teachers will be eligible to take the state EL certification exam. Tuition is at no cost to the teachers. Lipscomb is providing a generous discount in tuition, which is being paid in part by the district’s Race to the Top grant funds.
“We wanted to show how important we feel it is for every Metro teacher to be better prepared to address the needs of EL students in their classrooms,” said Candice McQueen, dean of the Lipscomb College of Education. “We feel the best way to do that is to provide the best education possible at the best price possible for the teachers.”
Classes started on Sept. 23 for the first two cohorts of teachers, who come from a variety of Metro Nashville schools such as Tusculum, Eakin, Cole, Westmeade and Haywood elementary schools.
“Through this partnership, the school district saw a way not only to get more of their teachers certified by the state to teach English language learners, a rapidly growing population in Nashville, but also to provide them with graduate-level instruction based on the latest research into learning methods, teacher leadership and best practices in the classroom,” said McQueen.
“In the past, Metro Schools teachers who wanted an EL license had to research the available programs and pay for the training themselves. This partnership encourages teachers to remain in our schools and thrive in EL classrooms by offering them free access to EL training at Lipscomb,” said Nicole Chaput Guizani, executive director of the Office of English Learners at Metro Schools.
Metro Schools currently serves more than 16,000 students from non-English language backgrounds. Additionally, more than 120 nationalites are represented within the district’s schools and more than 100 different languages are spoken.

“As the school district moves to a more inclusive model for teaching English learners, it is important for all teachers to have the special skills required to reach those students, because they may have them in class at any time,” said Chaput Guizani. “This program will benefit students and teachers all over Davidson County as we increase the corps of teachers who can confidently address the learning needs of all the students in their classrooms.”