Campus Life

New Projects To Build Texas Teacher Leadership, School Capacity To Work With English Learner Students

November 29, 2017

online education spotlight

By Kara Sutton-Jones and Dylan Allen, Texas A&M University College of Education and Human Development

An education professor at Texas A&M University has earned $5.24 million in National Professional Development grants from the U.S. Department of Education to improve training for teachers and school leaders serving English learner students.

“Developing leadership on campuses is key to developing learning environments where all students can thrive and be their best,” said Beverly J. Irby, associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Education and Human Development at Texas A&M. “It is our goal to develop effective new leaders to better educate English learners.”

Irby, the principal investigator, will use the $2.68 million grant to support Project Massive Open Online Professional Informal Learning (MOOPIL), a five-year program that offers online professional development for teachers and administrators instructing English learners and their family members.

The other $2.56 million grant will support Project Preparing Academic Leaders: Teachers of English Learners (PAL), also a five-year project that will provide teachers with professional development to improve instruction at schools with large numbers of English learners (ELs).

MOOPIL will provide teachers and other school personnel with a convenient online portal to improve their skills through live professional development seminars and recorded videos. Irby and her team will help 2,500 in-service teachers improve their instruction, and they will work virtually with 100 administrators, 150 paraprofessionals, and 100 parents and other family members to improve implementation of instructional strategies for ELs at school and home.

MOOPIL will offer one continuing professional education (CPE) credit for every hour of training. CPE is required to renew Texas teacher certificates, and classroom teachers must complete 150 hours every five years.

MOOPIL is housed in the Education Leadership Research Center and Center for Research and Development in Dual Language and Literacy Acquisition, and Rafael Lara-Alecio, Regents professor of bilingual education, and Fuhui Tong, associate professor of bilingual education, are co-principal investigators.

The PAL program will similarly train 120 in-service bilingual/English as second language education (ESL) teachers in 26 school districts to improve instructional capacity and aid them in serving as leaders on campuses with large populations of ELs.

The program will offer a total of 540 hours of professional development, 260 hours of professional practicum throughout the year and a summer residency on a campus that serves ELs. Researchers on the project also will examine the efficacy of virtual mentoring and coaching for these teachers.

In-service teachers will earn dual advanced professional certificates in bilingual or ESL education and educational administration.

Co-principal investigators for PAL include Mario Torres, educational administration and human resource development interim department head; Jean Madsen, professor and chair of educational administration; Rafael Lara-Alecio; and Fuhui Tong.


Media contact: Beverly J. Irby at or 979-845-5311

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