A fellowship program in Washington state, which allows bilingual paraprofessionals to earn bachelor’s degrees and K-8 teaching certificates while taking classes on nights and weekends, is one approach to meeting the demand for bilingual teachers, according to analysis of two reports from New America by The 74.
In another model, Portland Public Schools is working with Portland State University to line up candidates for its fellowship program in which bilingual educators with bachelor’s degrees work as teachers, substitutes or paraprofessionals in the district while earning graduate degrees.
Innovative models for recruiting bilingual teachers are increasingly necessary, especially in states with the largest proportions of English learners (EL), such as Texas, California, New Mexico, Washington, Oregon and Nevada.
The article cites data from the Migration Policy Institute showing that the percentages of EL students in these states can range up to 25%. The article also notes that districts that have specifically recruited teachers who are working in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program might be especially hard hit if Congress and President Trump don’t reach an agreement to continue the program as part of immigration reform.
While bilingual skills are increasingly important in the workforce, a study released earlier this year by the Learning Policy Institute showed that bilingual education is one of the areas in which schools are hiring underprepared teachers to meet staffing shortages. In addition to the programs highlighted in Washington and Oregon, New America has also followed California’s efforts to recruit bilingual paraprofessionals into the profession, noting that paraprofessionals, who are often more diverse than regular classroom teachers, are often an untapped resource for filling vacancies.