Recruitment and retention of bilingual/ESL teacher candidates in teacher preparation programs in Texas.



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Texas A&M University


The demographics of the United States are rapidly changing, resulting in an increasingly diverse student population. Public school personnel must contend with the fact that a large number of students have limited English proficiency. These students deserve a quality education, yet often face impediments within the school system that hinder their academic progress. One means of helping English language learners is to offer bilingual or English as Second Language (ESL) instruction. Indeed, the demand for bilingual/ESL teachers is greater than the current supply. Teacher preparation programs have recognized this fact and have taken actions to increase the number of students attaining bilingual/ESL degrees and/or certifications. This study examines what strategies institutions of higher education in Texas are utilizing to recruit and retain bilingual/ESL teacher candidates. It also considers to what extent these institutions are effectively preparing their students to face linguistic issues in their future classrooms. Finally, the study describes the institutions of higher education in Texas that attract the highest number of bilingual/ESL teacher candidates and identifies the key factors in their successful efforts. The researcher used a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods to address the research questions. Data was generated via an electronically mailed questionnaire, sent to forty Deans or administrators of teacher preparation programs in Texas that offer bilingual and/or ESL education; thirty five of them responded. Descriptive statistic methods, including frequency counts, percentages, crosstabulation, and logistic regression, were used to analyzed the data. Information obtained from openended questions was checked for the recurrence of common themes. Five administrators at high enrollment institutions participated in follow-up interviews in order to provide more in-depth information. Findings from the study indicated that institutional commitment and funding levels were associated with high enrollments and with higher student scores on state-mandated bilingual and ESL certification exams. Recommendations include: making the programs a priority, expanding recruitment efforts, expanded advertising of programs and establishing university/public school liaisons. Bilingual/ESL student organizations, offering scholarships and financial advising, and establishing student/faculty mentoring programs should be used to assist teacher candidates during their academic careers so that they will be effective teachers when they graduate.