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ESOL Expertise for All Educators Endorsed

The Board of Public Education has unanimously approved a resolution that directs the superintendent to establish a program for all non-ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) educators to acquire some form of an ESOL credential to better serve the district’s growing number of multilingual students. The vote took place at the Board’s June 20 meeting.

The program would be phased in, with substantial progress expected over the next four years, the resolution states. It also says that the Board pledges to provide “the resources and support necessary to ensure all educators in PPS have or acquire some form of an ESOL credential, certification, or micro-credential.”

Interim Co-Superintendent Melea Nalli stressed at the meeting that the details on how the program will function in practice remain to be worked out collaboratively with educators. “This is ultimately intended to empower educators,” she said. “It’s ultimately going to be successful if it’s felt as a value proposition for our teachers.”

The Portland Public Schools is Maine's largest and most diverse school district and has a large and very rapidly expanding population of multilingual learners who are not native speakers of English. More than one-third of the district’s students come from homes where more than 60 different languages are spoken, and 32 percent of PPS students are identified as multilingual learners, the resolution states. The number of multilingual students is growing. The district “is seeing an influx of newly arriving students with intensive language needs and has enrolled more than 950 new students since the start of the 2022-2023 school year,” the resolution states.

The district’s ESOL teachers are not the only ones who educate multilingual learners. “The education of students who are multilingual learners is the collective responsibility of all Portland Public Schools educators,” the resolution states. It says that the district “is committed to providing appropriate placement, along with curricular, instructional, and related services to ensure that all students who are identified as multilingual learners are held to high expectations and are given the opportunity to participate fully and effectively in their schools’ educational programs.”

To provide that, the resolution states, “all PPS educators need the skills, knowledge, and expertise to provide a rigorous, engaging, effective, and culturally relevant education for multilingual learners.”

Also in support of multilingual learners, the resolution directs the superintendent “to prioritize recruiting, supporting, and retaining diverse educators, with a focus on hiring staff who are multilingual, as well as continuing to support existing PPS educators to acquire additional languages.”

The resolution also charges the superintendent with reporting to the Board each year on the progress of the new program to have all non-ESOL educators acquire some form of ESOL credential and to detail recommendations or resources needed to strengthen the program.

Read the resolution HERE.