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Colorado State University-Pueblo MERIT programs earn state “model” status

Release Date: May 08, 2017

Cora Zaletel

Executive Director, External Affairs

Colorado State University-Pueblo

719-549-2810

Colorado State University-Pueblo MERIT programs earn state “model” status

PUEBLO – Two departments at Colorado State University-Pueblo have completed a successful five-year program supported by a Title III grant through the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of English Language Acquisition and earned a model program designation from the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) . The grant sought to improve the number of English as a Second Language endorsements among teachers and create a communications vehicle through which educators and their school districts could share best practices.   

Natalie Brown, project director of MERIT (Magnifying Educational Results in Teaching) said the CDE described Project MERIT  as a "model program" for its Culturally & Linguistically Diverse endorsement program that exceeded all of the goals outlined in its grant proposal. The program is coordinated through the English/Foreign Languages and Teacher Education departments.

According to Teacher Education Associate Dean Jeff Piquette, the MERIT program provided a tremendous opportunity for area teachers to complete 24 credit hours of graduate coursework leading to an added endorsement to their teaching license and have the tuition covered by grant money. 

“This expertise in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education (CLDE) is something that the State of Colorado has made a focal point of teacher preparation and development for a few years, and I am proud that we were able to train hundreds of teachers in the field in this high-need area,” he said.  

Even more, Piquette said, is the effect the program will have on K-12 students.

“We know that the number of students who are learning English as an additional language is increasing.   The MERIT program provided best practice training that will help teachers use effective strategies that result in higher student achievement, regardless of background,” he said.

The first goal was to add the CLD endorsement to the teaching licenses of a minimum of 100 teachers. The project team was able to expand to 17 total school districts in Southern Colorado - Harrison RE-2, Falcon 49, Pueblo 60, Pueblo 70, South Central BOCES districts, Santa Fe Trail BOCES districts, and Southeastern BOCES districts and reached 101 teachers.

Involving a minimum of 200 educators (including 20 administrators) in professional development that improved their instruction for ELs was the second successful outcome. The MERIT team reached the majority of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) educators in all districts for a total of 221 participants, including 26 administrators and 195 educators.

“Instead of continuing to abandon English Learners in our K-12 classroom to experience greater failures in school and future employment, we have provided teachers throughout southern Colorado with the knowledge and tools to help these children succeed,” said Dr. Ted Taylor, assistant professor of English and principal investigator of the MERIT grant.

Project MERIT also implemented a series of strategies to meet the needs of rural educators, including the use of technology applications through which participants collaborated to support each other and share best practices. The team hoped to have a retention rate of at least 80 percent of educators who remained in the program throughout the five-year grant and exceeded their goal by 10 percent with a 90 percent retention rate of educator engagement.

As an additional benefit, the MERIT program helped grow graduate student enrollment since those in the program were able to complete 24 of the required 38 hours for our master's degree program.  About 40 of those teachers who participated in the MERIT program chose to remain at CSU-Pueblo to complete their graduate degree.  

Colorado State University - Pueblo is committed to excellence, setting the standard for regional comprehensive universities in teaching, research, and service by providing leadership and access for its region, while maintaining its commitment to diversity.
--CSU-Pueblo--
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