May 2, 2018

Working Together for Dual Language Learners: Community of Peace Academy’s Co-Teaching Model

By Bonnie O'Keefe

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A new profile highlights the co-teaching approach for dual language learners (DLLs) at Community of Peace Academy in St. Paul, Minnesota. The school’s approach holds lessons for other Minnesota schools and for teacher preparation policies in the state at large.

This profile is part of the Supporting Minnesota Educators website from Bellwether Education Partners. The site delves into findings from the McKnight Foundation’s Pathway Schools Initiative to reveal broadly applicable lessons on supporting teachers and leaders in Minnesota and beyond.

Minnesota schools enroll more DLLs than ever before. These students are learning English language and literacy skills in addition to another home language. The number of English learners in Minnesota has increased by over 300 percent in the past 25 years, with a unique mix of languages not often seen in other states, such as Hmong, Somali, and Karen. Although research shows that multilingualism is a valuable skill for students, too often, DLLs fall behind their peers academically.

In response to persistent achievement gaps for DLLs, who made up half of their elementary students, school leaders at Community of Peace Academy revamped their DLL instruction. Now, classroom teachers work alongside dedicated DLL co-teachers who focus on language and literacy development. School leaders believe this approach has contributed to improved reading results over the past several years.

But, finding and retaining co-teachers has been a challenge. This profile tells the story of Community of Peace Academy’s co-teaching model and makes suggestions for policy changes in Minnesota that could support and accelerate progress for DLLs by better preparing teachers.

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