U of M receives $1.5 million to improve teaching science to English Learners

university-of-memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The University of Memphis has received a $1.5 million U.S. Department of Education
National Professional Development grant from the Office of English Language Acquisition.

The five-year grant was awarded to the Center for Research in Educational Policy (CREP) for “LASER Focused: A Model for Teaching Inquiry-Based Science to English Learners.”
Research indicates that inquiry-based science instruction is particularly effective for English
Learners because the hands-on nature of the method can make science more accessible while providing a pathway to developing language skills.

The goal of LASER Focused is to create a research-based, systemic initiative using a series of interventions over a five-year period to improve inquiry-based science instruction for English learners in 18 public schools in Denver and Aurora, Colo.

The goal of LASER Focused is to create a research-based, systemic initiative using a series of interventions over a five-year period to improve inquiry-based science instruction for English learners in 18 public schools in Denver and Aurora, Colo.
“We are pleased that CREP has this opportunity to extend our research in K-12 schools by focusing specifically on English Learners,” said Dr. Marty Alberg, CREP director and principal investigator for the project. “The findings from this study will impact educational policy and practice at the national level.”

Dr. Christine Bertz, research assistant professor, is co-principal investigator.
The proportion of English learners (ELs) enrolled in schools in the two districts is high: 133 different languages are represented by ELs in Aurora Public Schools, and more than 170 languages are represented by students in Denver Public Schools.
The intervention is based on the Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform (LASER) model developed by the Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC).

The SSEC is a sub-awardee on the grant and will develop the new EL materials, then train facilitators to provide professional development to 225 teachers in Denver and Aurora.