Between 1991 and 2015, the number of Iowa students classified as English Language Learners (ELL) increased by 500 percent. In Des Moines Public Schools (DMPS), approximately one in five students is an English language learner, with more than 100 languages spoken in households throughout the district.
With such a large number of ELL students and many state legislators hesitant to devote more dollars to ELL efforts, school districts across the state were presented with a distinct challenge in providing top quality education for these students.
When lawmakers began work on a literacy plan tailored for smaller schools with high ELL percentages, DMPS partnered with LS2group to ensure large urban schools would be included in the program. As the largest school district in the state, DMPS has seen a rising tide of students with limited English proficiency. Thus, inclusion in state efforts to improve ELL instruction was imperative for DMPS.
Through the efforts of the LS2group Government Affairs team, DMPS was selected as one of three schools to receive a grant to pilot its ELL initiative, which included intensive vocabulary instruction and professional development training for teachers.