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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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University partnership receives $770,000 to improve school administrators' preparedness for linguistic diversity

New Mexico State University, in a partnership with two other universities, has received a $770,000 federal grant to help schools meet the needs of students who are English language learners.

SILTS -- Supporting Innovative Leaders in Today's Schools -- was developed by New Mexico State's Educational Management and Development Department, Eastern New Mexico University and Kansas State University to improve the quality of education for students who are English language learners or who have limited English proficiency -- ELL/LEP students.

Elva R. Lopez, Project SILTS manager for the College of Education, said the project has three goals -- increase expertise of school administrators in the needs of these students, prepare bilingual teachers for administrative licensure and share best practices with colleagues and institutions beyond the target areas.

"The average American classroom is more diverse than it has ever been. Not just culturally diverse, but linguistically diverse," Lopez said.

In 1999, the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Languages Affairs reported that New Mexico's school population had one of the highest proportions of ELL/LEP students -- 26 percent.

The project will allow a total of 30 principals from the three target areas to participate in professional development activities that will develop their knowledge of effective instructional practices.

The project also will provide financial support for 24 bilingual teachers, eight from each participating university, to enroll in courses leading to the completion of a master's in educational administration and an administrative license.

New Mexico State will work with principals and teachers from the Las Cruces, Gadsden and Deming school districts.

Best practices will be shared by the participating principals and teachers through local, state and national conferences.

"To meet the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse students, administrators must understand the specific aspects of teaching and learning that mean success for all students," Lopez said. "The idea is to increase the number of administrators that are familiar with the specific needs of this growing population of students. In New Mexico, it's predicted that ELL/LEP students will soon be the majority in many districts."

For more information about Project SILTS, call Lopez at (505) 646-3825.

Julie M. Hughes
March 25, 2002