Teachers Prepare as English Language Learner Population Grows

WAUKEE, Iowa – English language learners are one of Iowa’s fastest growing student populations and this week teachers from all over the state are in the metro learning new strategies for the classroom.

More than 300 educators are at Waukee High School for the two-day “Our Kids Summer Institute,” which gives participants the chance to network with other ELL teachers in Iowa.

An Iowa education report showed nearly 24,000 Iowa students are considered English languages learners, which is why more instructors are needed.

Currently, there are fewer than 500-certified teachers. That translates into a student-teacher ratio of one to 50.

The institute will focus on technology, literacy and the students’ diverse cultures.

“Iowa has a rapidly changing demographic,” Jobi Lawrence with the Iowa Department of Education said. “Our ELL population is actually the only school-age population that’s showing growth and the trend continues to look upward. We need to make sure we’re being very proactive and that every teacher in Iowa is prepared the day the English language learner sets foot in the classroom.”

According to the Iowa Condition of Education report roughly 5-percent of students in the state are not proficient in English.