Local Teachers Encouraged to Participate in Free English Learner Certification Exam Prep Course

 Teachers from 17 elementary schools in 10 school districts are invited to participate in a free, online English as a Second Language (ESL) certification exam prep course as part of a Teachers of English Learners Pilot Project coordinated by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, a nonprofit that supports public schools.

 The free Oklahoma ESL Exam preparation course is available to certified teachers from these participating pilot schools and districts: Lynn Wood and Timber Ridge elementary schools in BROKEN ARROW;  Southwest, Washington and Nance elementary schools in CLINTON; Central Oak Elementary in CROOKED OAK; Eisenhower, Monroe and Coolidge elementary schools in ENID; Hennessey Lower Elementary in HENNESSEY; Hooker Elementary in HOOKER; Marietta Elementary and Upper Elementary schools in MARIETTA; Adams Elementary in NORMAN; Purcell Elementary and Intermediate schools in PURCELL; and Santa Fe South Early Childhood Center in Santa Fe South Charter Schools, OKLAHOMA CITY.

“The course is ideal for classroom teachers who want to improve their knowledge and skills about serving English Learners (ELs) and those who may be interested in earning additional certifications needed for site and district ESL leadership roles,” said Lisa Pryor, project manager. “The course may also be a helpful refresher to those who already hold ESL certification, as requirements do change over time.”

Created by two veteran elementary and middle school ESL teachers, Ellen Kraft and Marcie Levy of Norman, the new self-paced course may be started at any time. With six standards to explore, teachers could expect to spend approximately 18 hours across the course readings, activities, interactive assignments, and quizzes keyed to the 14 competencies addressed in the state certification exam. Experienced teachers may move through the course more quickly. Teachers who complete the course before Dec. 31 are eligible for an $80 exam fee voucher to be used at the time of registration for the ESL certification exam.

Emily Stratton, executive director of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, said the new course is part of a pilot project designed to address a critical need for Oklahoma classroom teachers and their English Learner students. The pilot project is part of the foundation’s teacher professional development programs.

“Nearly 60,000 students in Oklahoma’s public schools do not speak English as their first language, presenting a challenge for classroom teachers who often do not have the training or resources to effectively integrate English Learner students into their classroom activities,” Stratton said.

To support classroom teachers and their English Learner students, the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence has launched the Teachers of English Learners Pilot Project this year. The project uses an online learning platform to provide professional development, networking and support for classroom teachers in 17 elementary schools with a high enrollment of English Learner students.  The heart of the project is an online learning platform developed by NextThought, an Oklahoma company that specializes in online professional development and community networking.

The pilot project was developed by advisory and content committees made up of Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence trustees and English Learner specialists from school districts and colleges. In addition, six ESL-certified teachers serve as virtual facilitators for the pilot project to answer questions and provide resources for participants. Following the pilot project, organizers are planning a statewide roll-out in partnership with the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

Sponsors of the Teachers of English Learners Pilot Project are Sarkeys Foundation, BancFirst, The Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundations, Home Creations, Gene Rainbolt, Bar S Foods, Cherokee Strip Community Foundation, Dillingham Foundation, The Joullian Foundation, the Office of Education Quality and Accountability, ARVEST Bank of Tulsa and Oklahoma City, Lopez Foods, Kirk and Sue Morris, Junior Welfare Leagues of Enid, Stephen and Sherrel Jones, Central Machine and Tool LLC, Dick Sias, Lisa Pryor, Oklahoma Bank & Trust Co., Cheryl & GW Lowry Jr., and Dick Ebrey.

For more information, call or text Project Manager Lisa Pryor at (405) 808-3457.