A growing number of immigrants choose to call Iowa home, increasing the number of English Language Learners (ELL) in almost all school districts across the state. In Des Moines Public Schools (DMPS), Iowa’s largest district, the influx of ELL students brings the challenge of teaching students who speak nearly 100 different languages. State legislators were reluctant to devote more dollars to ELL efforts until they better understood the best practices behind ELL instruction.
While state legislators crafted a literacy grant program for smaller schools with a high percentage of ELL students, LS2group successfully worked with education stakeholders to ensure the criteria for the program included large urban schools, such as DMPS, with a diverse array of native languages. Ultimately, DMPS was selected as one of three schools to receive a grant to pilot its ELL initiative, which included intensive vocabulary instruction, as well as professional development training for teachers.